28 Oct 2022
The Minister of State with responsibility for Communications and Circular Economy, Ossian Smyth, has launched a public consultation on draft regulations to introduce an environmental levy on single-use disposal cups containing hot drinks.
The levy on single-use disposable cups is being introduced to incentivise people to choose to re-use. It will work in a similar way to the plastic bag levy. Under these regulations, consumers can use a reusable cup when buying a hot drink or pay 20 cent for a disposable one.
The consultation seeks to obtain the views of all stakeholders across three strands — public, business and other interested parties. The consultation period will close at 5.30pm on 25 November 2022. The consultation proposes that the regulations will be made in December, with a further three months (minimum) provided to allow appropriate preparation and transitional arrangements to be made before the levy is applied.
Minister Smyth said:
“Millions of single-use cups are sent to landfill or incineration every year in Ireland. The ambition behind this levy is to make Ireland one of the first countries in the world to eradicate disposable coffee cups, and in doing so reduce avoidable waste and contribute to climate action. Many people are already making a choice to use their own reusable cup every day.
“While the aim of this environmental levy is not to raise revenue, the proceeds will be ring-fenced in a circular economy fund for projects relating to environmental and climate change objectives.
“The successful introduction of the plastic bag levy in 2002 showed us how positively consumers react to small changes in their daily routine. I am confident that people will embrace the move to reusables, and I encourage everyone to share their views on the draft regulations by participating in the public consultation.”
Information from this public consultation will inform the finalisation of the regulations. A consultation report will be published on the department’s website in due course.
The national Waste Action Plan for a Circular Economy sets out the commitments to introduce new environmental levies for more responsible waste management behaviour. The Circular Economy and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, signed in late July, provides the legislative framework to allow the Minister to implement these levies.
The initial priority for the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications is the introduction of the levy on single-use disposable cups for hot drinks and this is now being introduced through secondary legislation. This will be extended to include single-use cups for cold drinks and other single-use items over time, following further analysis and consultation with stakeholders and the public.
In its latest national litter survey published in June 2022, Irish Business Against Litter (IBAL) found that while there has been a sharp fall in the number of litter blackspots across the country, the prevalence of coffee cups on our streets warrants the introduction of this levy. The survey found that coffee cup litter remains high and called for actions to disincentivise the use of paper, compostable or recyclable cups. These regulations will deliver on those actions.
The levy aims to encourage more people to think about other steps they can take in their daily lives to lower resource consumption and contribute to climate action.
The levy works in a similar way to the plastic bag levy, with the proceeds ringfenced in a circular economy fund for projects relating to environmental and climate action objectives. The specific types of projects for which the funds can be used are set out in Section 8 of the Circular Economy Act. It is not a revenue raising measure; it is about effecting behavioural change. If we manage to effect that change, as people make the switch, revenue will disappear within a short space of time.
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