Urgent Overhaul of Irish Deposit Return Scheme Backed by Experts

An expert group of academics, campaigners and politicians, including VOICE Ireland, Friends of the Earth Ireland and Greenpeace, have called for an urgent overhaul of plans for a deposit return scheme (DRS) in Ireland.

Writing in an open letter published on November 17th, 15 leading figures called for Environment Minister Eamon Ryan to urgently expand the scheme to include all drinks containers.  

The letter was signed by Fianna Fáil Senator Erin McGreehan and Independent Senator David Norris. They were joined by Professors Jane Stout and Amber Davies of Trinity College Dublin.

VOICE Ireland, Friends of the Earth Ireland, Greenpeace, and An Taisce – The National Trust for Ireland all backed the call.

Drink To That

The Government is set to introduce a DRS for drinks containers in 2021 with a proposed model where consumers pay a deposit on all PET plastic drinks bottles and aluminium cans.

But experts want the scheme extended to capture all drinks containers including glass bottles.

Currently the Government is proposing a flat rate €0.20 deposit for all containers in the scheme. But writing in a national newspaper, experts instead called for a variable deposit to be introduced; this is where consumers pay a deposit that varies based on the size and material of the container.

Glass Action

The letter states: “The draft design of the scheme proposes a model where consumers will pay a deposit on all plastic drinks bottles and aluminium cans.

With containers of all materials found on Ireland’s beaches, capturing only plastic bottles and aluminium cans is short-sighted.

We call on the government to expand this scheme to capture more drinks containers, most importantly, glass. This will allow the flexibility of moving the DRS to collect glass bottles for reuse at a future date, which is a more environmentally sound use of materials.

Last month a VOICE Ireland poll backed by Friends of the Earth Ireland revealed almost nine-in-10 people want a DRS that is as comprehensive as possible.

This means a scheme encompassing glass bottles, metal cans and plastic drinks bottles. Some 78 percent too want a variable deposit in which a higher deposit is levied on large plastic bottles and a lesser fee on smaller drinks containers.  

Today we ask the Government to listen to the people and re-think these DRS plans before it’s too late.

The Government is set to introduce a deposit return scheme in Ireland by 2022.

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