Written answers

Wednesday, 18 January 2023

Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment

Waste Management

Photo of Jackie CahillJackie Cahill (Tipperary, Fianna Fail)
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100. To ask the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if organic waste that is used to cover landfills will continue to be exempt from the organic fines levy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1275/23]

Photo of Eamon RyanEamon Ryan (Dublin Bay South, Green Party)
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The Waste Action Plan for a Circular Economy (WAPCE) sets out a commitment to ‘analyse the impact of the landfill levy exemption for bio-waste and whether it should be removed’. My Department has established a working group to examine this.

Arising from the work of the group it is intended to undertake a full review of the landfill levy regulations and exemptions to the levy, including stabilised waste that has been bio-logically treated, this year.

Photo of Matt CarthyMatt Carthy (Cavan-Monaghan, Sinn Fein)
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101. To ask the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if progress has been made in calculating the amount of polyethylene terephthalate, PET, and plastic that are recycled domestically and exported; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1311/23]

Photo of Matt CarthyMatt Carthy (Cavan-Monaghan, Sinn Fein)
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102. To ask the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment his proposals to reduce the amount of polyethylene terephthalate, PET, and plastic exported from Ireland; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1312/23]

Photo of Eamon RyanEamon Ryan (Dublin Bay South, Green Party)
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I propose to take Questions Nos. 101 and 102 together.

At present, the quantity of recyclable materials placed on the market exceeds domestic recycling capacity and the waste management industry relies, in part, on the export market to meet its processing needs. The following organisations collate data on PET and plastic and the recycling and export of that waste: 

- The National Transfontier Shipment Office (NTFSO) maintains records of waste exports and registers containing details of waste exported by year are available on the NTFSO website.

- The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) collects data for national waste statistics and data on the treatment of packaging waste, including plastic recycled outside Ireland, is published in the EPA’s Waste Packaging Statistics for Ireland.

- Repak, the national packaging Extended Producer Responsibility scheme, has subsidies in place to incentivise domestic recycling infrastructure ahead of recycling abroad by providing, for example:

- an additional reprocessing subsidy for household collection which was introduced in 2020 and is only available to plastic re-processors with operations in Ireland. Currently this subsidy is €80 per tonne.

- a stepped system in place for commercial collection with the highest subsidy payable where material is recycled in Ireland, mid-range funding where material is recycled in EU/UK, and a reduced subsidy for material sent outside Europe.

Repak also reports data on plastic recycling in its annual Plastic Pledge Report.

Latest data from the EPA shows that 89,057 tonnes of plastic packaging waste was recycled in 2020, of which 7,568 tonnes (8%) was recycled domestically and 81,489 tonnes (92%) was recycled outside Ireland. Currently, data on PET exports cannot be separately identified as there is no EU or international waste code for this type of material.  

In November 2022, I launched the Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) for PET plastic bottles and aluminium cans. Data on PET plastic bottles will be collected and reported to the Department by Re-turn, the DRS operator, once the scheme is live.

Photo of Matt CarthyMatt Carthy (Cavan-Monaghan, Sinn Fein)
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103. To ask the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if he will provide an update on the introduction of a levy on the use of virgin plastics; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1313/23]

Photo of Eamon RyanEamon Ryan (Dublin Bay South, Green Party)
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The Waste Action Plan for a Circular Economy 2020-2025 commits to examining measures to support increased use of recycled materials in packaging including the possible introduction of a virgin plastic levy. Any interventions in the market must be carefully assessed and my officials are engaging with stakeholders to better understand current behaviour in the plastics recycling market. 

My Department is also monitoring plans at an EU level to deal with virgin plastic. On 30 November 2022, as part of its Circular Economy Package, the European Commission published proposed revisions to the Packaging and Packaging Waste legislation. One of the actions proposed by the Commission is the inclusion of mandatory recycled plastic content rates in new plastic packaging which will further boost the market for recycled materials.

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