Letters to the Editor: 'Latte levy' will not reduce plastic waste

Letters to the Editor: 'Latte levy' will not reduce plastic waste

The ‘latte levy’ will have the effect of replacing renewable fibre cups with plastic, it is claimed. Picture: Ben Birchall/PA

While the renewable fibre packaging industry supports the principles of a circular economy, the recently-enacted “latte levy” as part of the Circular Economy Act will hamper our ambitions to reduce plastic waste.


Check out our Sustainability and Climate Change Hub where you will find the latest news, features, opinions and analysis on this topic from across the various Irish Examiner topic desks and their team of specialist writers and columnists.

In response to your reporting on a survey by the Environmental Protection Agency on July 11, (‘Almost two thirds of Irish adults support the introduction of a levy on single-use plastic products’) we observe the contrasting and more comprehensive findings of another recent survey. While the EPA surveyed respondents about levying single-use plastics, a poll conducted by Ireland Thinks on June 4 took a more nuanced approach, asking 1,211 people whether paper cups certified as disposable and recyclable should be included in the levy and ultimately banned, as is the Government’s ultimate intention.

A strong majority (63%) of respondents did not believe paper-based cups should be part of the ban, with this figure increasing to 79% if discounting the 11% of ‘unsure’ respondents. The “latte levy” actually prevents circularity, banning recyclable products in favour of nominally reusable plastic-based cups, which often cannot be recycled and end up in landfill. We banned the plastic straw, replacing it with a renewable fibre, but the latte levy will replace renewable fibre cups with plastic.

A life-cycle analysis study (something the Government refused to conduct during its rushed legislative process) shows that multiple-use plastic cups use around 3.4 times more water and generate up to 2.8 times more CO2 emissions on a use-for-use basis — the equivalent to adding 1m petrol cars on the road every year.

In reality, the disproportionate focus on disposable cups is more of a distraction than a sound policy decision

Ireland could instead look to some of our European neighbours by implementing the tax on a pro-rata basis, based on the level of plastic content within a given product. This would encourage industry to embrace renewable, recyclable, and climate-friendly alternatives, deliver better environmental outcomes — and avoid levying consumers.

In reality, the disproportionate focus on disposable cups is more of a distraction than a sound policy decision, as paper cups amount to 0.0003% of total waste in Ireland. What is needed to facilitate a truly circular economy — and both the EPA report and the Ireland Thinks poll are aligned on this — is increased investment in recycling infrastructure. With this in mind, the industry stands ready to engage with Government officials and put its shoulder to the wheel in order to implement changes that will achieve the best environmental
outcomes possible.

Terry Fox

General manager, Huhtamaki Cup Print Ltd

Ban all foreign naval

exercises off coast

So far this year, the planned use of Irish waters by the military forces of both Russia and France have made news headlines and raised alarms here in Ireland.

As has been raised and brought to public attention by those who fish for a living within Ireland’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ), these naval exercises pose threats to their livelihoods, to Ireland’s fish stocks, and to marine diversity in the region. Foreign war forces use naval vessels, aircraft, submarines, military sonar, and live fire, thus endangering marine life and polluting the waters. The testing of weapons and military manoeuvres contribute to the destruction of the environment and exacerbate climate collapse. The war rehearsals increase tensions at an international level either by design or accident, in what are increasingly dangerous times. Such war play is doubly insulting as it flies in the face of Irish sovereign neutrality.

What we need to promote is an Ireland that would become a true symbol of peace and an ecological preservation zone, not a war zone. How many more military forces are going to be allowed to enter our waters with nothing more than a warning notice to the people of Ireland from the Department of Transport — and that’s if we are lucky?

The testing of weapons and military manoeuvres contribute to the destruction of the environment and exacerbate climate collapse

All foreign naval exercises should be prevented in Irish waters, including within Ireland’s EEZ. The Government is failing to protect our waters, our environment, our people, and their livelihoods.

We have asked Eamon Ryan, the Minister for Transport, Environment, and Climate, Simon Coveney, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, and Charlie McConalogue, Minister for Agriculture, Food, and the Marine, to pay attention and give priority to the above issues by taking action in a responsible manner to prevent any such exercises in the Irish EEZ in future.

We are awaiting their responses.

Galway Alliance Against War, James Duggan, Right 2 Water Galway, Swords to Ploughshares, Ireland Irish South and West Fish Producers Association, Ed Horgan, Veterans for Peace, Ireland ShannonWatch, Jim Roche, PRO, Irish Anti-War Movement, Roger Cole,Peace and Neutrality Alliance,World Beyond War, Ireland

Energy utilities will soon be out of reach

To be honest, when I read your report earlier this month about Eir’s price hikes (“Eir up prices with a further hike to come in April”, Irish Examiner, July 7), I dismissed the idea that they could announce automatic yearly price increases comprising the inflation rate plus 3% as a sop to create a distraction. Lo and behold, I have just received a letter from Eir, confirming that this is indeed their plan.

Given that no one can expect their income to rise yearly at the same pace, it is clear that over a short number of years, many will simply not be able to afford these services as the cost rapidly outstrips their ability to pay. Has anyone asked Eir to explain the rationale behind their plan? Has the company undertaken projections to see where their charges might be five years hence? Have they undertaken a study to examine affordability issues?

Since the wholesale privatisation of utilities here, the cost to Irish citizens moved very quickly to the top of the list.

One would have thought that a company involved in the supply of a vital utility would have to show clearly how they justify increases announced and show that they have studied the impact of such increases. It certainly is very worrying that so far, not a single consumer agency has indicated concern with what is happening. This is lending much residence to the view that the regulatory quangos that exist are focused on the interests of the supplier rather than the customer.

Since the wholesale privatisation of utilities here, the cost to Irish citizens moved very quickly to the top of the list. Ireland now has the dearest electricity, gas, telecommunication charges, bin disposal etc, in Europe. It seems the situation is out of our control and faceless individuals are running these utilities with little or no regard for the capacity of citizens to access them, or the common good.

Is it time we all gave consideration to the renationalisation of these utilities? If we don’t it is clear that many citizens will very soon not be able to access them. What sort of country are we preparing for our children?

Jim O’Sullivan



Green tax meant to control working class

Rory Hearne (‘Retrofitting Ireland’s ageing housing stock must be a Government priority’, Irish Examiner, July 24) states climate change will lead to rising inequality. Is this not obvious to all? A green tax, like all Vat, is regressive and is meant to control the working class and not the rich. The rich, like Prince Harry, will just lecture us while using private jets.

Governments would tax the very air that you breath if they could get away with it. A ‘green tax’ (for our own good) is one way of doing it. I personally cannot see how man’s minuscule contribution of 0.0016% CO2 to our atmosphere can make that much difference. However, the experts think so, and when have they ever been wrong?

Garry Anderson



Singing the praises of opera production

Normally I wouldn’t write a letter to the editor about a production in Cork Opera House, but John O’Brien’s opera The Morrigan is a towering, exciting, deeply-moving work that could well become the first Irish national opera of the 21st century, and deserves to be known and produced internationally. In the past, I was theatre critic for RTÉ in Cork and I only wish O’Brien’s opera had been there in my time in that role. 

The Morrigan, with scintillating libretto by Eadaoin O’Donoghue and O’Brien’s music that is both powerful and touching, is a superb night of theatre and the array of Cork talent on and off stage would make any Cork person proud that we can produce such world-class excellence. If you’ve never been to an opera, make this your first one.

Kevin N Power

Glasheen Rd


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