Supermarkets face fines and risk being named and shamed for creating excess waste or using too much plastic under plans to be teased out in September.
Richard Bruton, the environment minister, pledged that Ireland would “take the lead” on plastics, and roll out a fines system so firms would move away from using non-recyclable materials.
At the MacGill Summer School, Mr Bruton revealed that Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions are set to fall reduce by just 1% next year, far from a previous target of 20%.
“On plastics, I will be convening a conference in September about how we deliver our ambitions. Our ambitions include halving food waste, reducing plastics, and the use of plastic packaging, eliminating non-recyclable plastics, increasing our recyclable rate for plastics by 60%. So we have a very ambitious schedule.
“We will be changing the fee structures so that companies that create waste will pay higher fees for waste that is difficult to manage, and we will be seeking more carbon pledges or plastic pledges from companies who are in the retail and manufacturing area so this is an area where we can set very strong ambitions.”
Mr Bruton’s predecessor Denis Naughten had written to supermarket CEOs and asked them to reduce their use of non-recyclable plastic packaging for fruit and vegetables. But only some stores have done this and with varying results.
Asked would a tougher stance be taken with supermarkets who opt out of such initiatives, Mr Bruton replied:
“Yes, we will take a tougher stance. Firstly by modulating the fees, so there will be a charge, so those with an excess or non-recyclables will be paying more but we will proceed if necessary by regulation.”
Mr Bruton also suggested that supermarkets may be named and shamed for failing to use less plastic. “Yes, I think that will be an element of this.
The minister came under attack at the Glenties school from youth climate activists. Conal O’Boyle, 16, told him that climate change was bigger than Brexit or the national broadband plan.
Change had to be tackled from the “top down” and Fine Gael was not doing that, he argued.