Dáil Éireann - Volume 595 - 09 December, 2004

Written Answers - Litter Pollution.

[138]   31. Mr. McGinley asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the plans he has to extend the plastic bags levy to other areas, such as non-reusable packaging; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32782/04]

  73. Ms O. Mitchell asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government his views on the call by Irish Business Against Litter to impose an annual €20 million levy on chewing gum companies; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32751/04]

  100. Ms Lynch asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the progress made with regard to the public consultation process on the 2003 litter monitoring body report on problematic litter items such as chewing gum and fast food packaging; if, as promised, he will be making decisions on the measures required to deal with these problems before the end of 2004; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32668/04]

  Mr. Roche: I propose to take Questions Nos. 31, 73 and 100 together.

On foot of the success of the environmental levy on plastic bags, which was introduced in March 2002 and has resulted in a reduction in the dispensing of plastic shopping bags at retail outlets by over 90%, the An Agreed Programme for Government contained a commitment to consider the extension of the levy on plastic bags to other materials which may be problematic from a waste management and/or litter perspective. The litter monitoring body, which is co-ordinated by my Department, has published two reports to date — in respect of the years 2002 and 2003 — which provide valuable statistical data on litter pollution in Ireland. In the light of the first litter monitoring body report published in July 2003, in respect of the year 2002, my predecessor announced his intention to tackle the issue of litter caused by chewing gum, fast food packaging and automated teller machine, ATM, receipts, which were identified as significant elements of litter pollution.

To this end, a consultancy study was commissioned in September 2003 to carry out an analysis and recommend appropriate economic instruments, including environmental levies, that might be implemented to tackle the litter problems caused by these items. The consultancy report was released for public consultation on 23 September 2004.

With regard to chewing gum, the consultants’ report proposed two options — a mandatory 10% levy on chewing gum sales, an average 5 cent per pack, to be collected at manufacturer, importer or distributor level, which would generate an estimated €4-5 million per annum for use in paying towards the clean up costs of chewing gum litter; a negotiated agreement between my Department and the industry involving the putting in place of [139] a comprehensive action plan incorporating intensive education and awareness campaigns and including agreed funding levels with agreed tangible targets and time frames aimed at changing consumer behaviour with chewing gum disposal and reducing gum litter. The consultancy report also recommended negotiated agreements with the relevant sectors regarding fast food packaging and ATM receipts.

The purpose of the public consultation process was to obtain the views of relevant stakeholders and other interested parties on the report’s recommendations. The deadline for the receipt of comments and submissions under the public consultation phase was 29 October 2004. It is intended that a final decision will be made on this matter as soon as possible on foot of evaluating the submissions received, including the submission from IBAL, during the public consultation process.