The packaging waste initiative, REPAK – Ireland’s first environmental voluntary agreement between government and industry – “faces a number of challenges, which were not anticipated during start-up, and the organisation will have to adapt its policies and financial structures if these are to be overcome,” said Environment Minister Noel Dempsey, on 4 November 1998.

In order to meet objectives, the scheme is to be expanded and a new charging scheme introduced. The EU has given Ireland a delayed deadline of 2001 to meet its national targets. Under these circumstances, says Dempsey “failure is not an option we can contemplate.”

“I believe REPAK can deliver success…If however, for any reason, REPAK falls short I would have no option but to take the traditional regulatory approach….Inevitably, a regulatory approach would involve costs and administrative impositions significantly outweighing those involved in supporting the successful operation of REPAK.”

In response to concerns that companies complying with the targets are at a commercial disadvantage as the packaging regulations not being effectively implemented by local authorities, the Minister announced more financial resources for local authorities, and a higher profile on regulatory enforcement.

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