Louth Fianna Fail senator, Erin McGreehan has reiterated calls for the implementation of a more wide ranging Deposit Returns Scheme in a speech to the Seanad on Tuesday.
Addressing Minister of State, Deputy Ossian Smyth Senator McGreehan called the proposed scheme:
“A concept that has potential to enable an entirely new way that people look at packaging and create new, positive habits for our country.
“It is a gateway to an entirely new way of consuming goods and re-imagining the concept of packaging.”
“The Minister of State will agree with me that we need to design products that will last.
“This country needs a drinks deposit returns scheme that is as ambitious as possible. I will understand if the scheme is introduced in a phased way but I urge that targets are set for each phase and that we legislate for the targets.
“I stress that there needs to be clear timelines to include glass, carton packaging and the move towards a digital deposit returns scheme, DRS, thus enabling the model to be expanded into a reuse model.
“The DRS should use a variable fee that includes all of the materials. Such a scheme would be a powerful tool to improve recycling rates and make consumers think twice about the environmental impact of the product that they buy.”
We should acknowledge that packaging is not worthless or should not be seen as waste. We need to move towards a scheme of a deposit return for packaging for the reuse model and only use the linear single-use recyclable model in the most limited circumstances.
There will still be a need for single-use plastics but we need to reduce where practicable and always incentivise companies to change to better products. Ireland is a small nation and has a huge opportunity to make its economy one of the best examples of a circular economy.
“I am incredibly ambitious for this deposit returns scheme. I want this Government to be bold and ambitious too. People want a modern, accessible and wide-ranging scheme.”
Senator McGreehan also floated the idea of introducing a digital element to the scheme:
“Recently I had an interesting meeting with representatives of the Alliance for Beverage Cartons and the Environment or ACE Ireland and we discussed this topic.
“ACE Ireland believes that a digital or smart deposit returns scheme should be examined alongside the conventional return to retail scheme.
“A digital DRS would ultimately prove a more flexible and adaptable system for widening the scope of acceptable materials. In order for there to be less waste we need to enable people to change.
“A digital system would result in a more user-friendly system where customers could access a scheme through placing materials in their mixed dry recycling bins that are collected at the kerbside.
“A digital DRS could also remove the burden on consumers who store used packaging materials in their homes and return them in bulk to shops or supermarkets during their next visit. I want people to change but we need that help.
“We need to make recycling easy. We need to incentivise, encourage, create opportunities and create ways to access a new-age circular economy in Ireland.
“We can do that by using modern and ever upgrading technology to provide a DR scheme. I know that such developments cannot happen overnight but we can do it in the next five years if we are really ambitious to provide such a scheme.”
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