Ireland upbeat on packaging waste

Recycling rates of packaging waste have been steadily increasing in Ireland but the impetus needs to be kept up.

Recycling packaging waste has been an Irish success story

Recycling packaging waste has been an Irish success story

This was the view expressed by Environment Minister Dick Roche on the eve of the publication of the Irish government's draft Waste Management (Packaging) Regulations which aim to clarify existing legislation and bring greater transparency to the regulatory regime.

The proposals also recommend that producers pick up a bigger share of the bill for the recycling of packaging waste.

"Recycling rates for packaging waste just keep increasing year on year but there is no room for complacency," said Mr Roche.

"We have achieved our success on the basis of a successful partnership model with everyone playing their part. I expect all the stakeholders to continue to support recycling as we aim to become a leading European nation in this regard."

In 2005 Ireland recycled 60% of its packaging waste, meeting its EU target for 2011 six years early, a success Mr Roche put down in part to the public embracing the idea.

"The public's appetite for recycling hasn't yet reached its limit. They are not worried about targets but with showing their concern for the environment and saving money at the same time," he said.

"Packaging waste recycling has been a phenomenal success in Ireland. We need to ensure that the regulatory regime we put in place for the next number of years will underpin further progress in this area.

I am confident that with the continued support of stakeholders - particularly householders - that these draft regulations will see Ireland achieve recovery and recycling rates that will be up there with the best in Europe."

The regulations would see more producers contributing to the cost of recovering and recycling waste.

The draft sees a shift definition of a major producer of packaging waste expanded to any organisation which produces 10 tonnes or more a year, down from the current figure of 25 tonnes.

"I think that this strikes the right balance. If greater recycling brings greater costs, then I believe that more suppliers of packaging - producers - should contribute to meeting this cost rather than householders," said Mr Roche.

It also makes opting out of take-back schemes more difficult and requires all major producers to accept packaging waste returned by consumers during normal business hours.

Producers looking to meet their recycling targets by buying in packaging waste would also have to ensure that the make up of the waste they are buying reflects that which they are producing and would be required to purchase at least 20% of it from post-consumer sources.

"Packaging waste recycling has been a phenomenal success in Ireland.," claimed the Minister.

"We need to ensure that the regulatory regime we put in place for the next number of years will underpin further progress in this area. I am confident that with the continued support of stakeholders - particularly householders - that these draft Regulations will see Ireland achieve recovery and recycling rates that will be up there with the best in Europe."

Sam Bond

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