Young Fine Gael call for levy on bottles and cans in Budget 2018

Published by Lia Flattery on

September 4th, 2017

Young Fine Gael (YFG) has joined calls for the introduction of a refundable levy on bottles and cans despite hesitation from the Fine Gael-led Government.

The proposal is one of 57 across eight areas, including housing, health, and education, in YFG’s pre-budget submission for Budget 2018.

According to the document, the proposed levy would incentivise recycling and “keep our streets and public areas clean”. It would also raise funds for recycling and community projects, the document states.

The levy, applied to items at the time of purchase, could be redeemed by returning items to the shop where they were bought or to dedicated recycling centres, which would be established using profits from the scheme.

The submission outlines a proposed charge of 50 cent for large glass bottles, and 20 cent for small glass bottles, jam-jars or large plastic bottles. YFG propose no charge for cans and small plastic bottles.

In recent years, the concept of refundable levies on bottles and cans has received increased support in Ireland.

In July, the Environmental Pillar, Ireland’s leading environmental coalition, recommended the implementation of a levy on single-use, non-compostable coffee cups, plastic packaging and cutlery as part of its pre-budget submission.

The Green Party’s Waste Reduction Bill, introduced earlier this year, is also calling for deposit-and-return schemes for plastic and glass bottles and aluminium cans, as well as a ban on single-use, non-compostable cups, and other tableware.

The Bill, which passed Second Stage in the Dáil in July, received wide cross-party support and has been backed by a number of NGOs.

The Fine Gael-led Government, however, has shown reluctance to introduce a deposit-and-return scheme.

During the Dáil debate in July, Minister for the Environment Denis Naughten claimed that such a scheme would be more expensive than Green Party estimations.

Mr Naughten said also that the levy would not have a significant impact on recycling or litter rates as Ireland already has a high recycling rate for drinks containers.

Fine Gael TD Seán Kyne also weighed in, stating that he was “not convinced of the merits of introducing such a scheme” because of high costs.

YFG Vice President Michael Ward, however, disagreed that such a scheme would incur high administration costs if set up correctly, calling for initial trials “run by local councils in a decentralised manner”.

The introduction of the scheme would demonstrate Ireland’s commitment to recycling according to Mr Ward, as well as helping to “further improve our position”.

“Ireland currently has the second highest rate of packaging recycling in the European Union,” he added. “There is no reason why we should not be number one in this area.”

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Lia Flattery

Lía is a former writer and Deputy Editor at Trinity News. She also has a BA in History and English Literature from Trinity College Dublin.