Levy on single-use disposable cups to come into force early next year

Minister launches consultation on draft ‘latte levy’ regulations

The new environmental levy on single-use disposable cups will come into operation early next year after regulations are finalised in December, it has been confirmed

The so-called latte levy, part of the Circular Economy Act, will add 20 cents on single-use cups for hot drinks.

Minister of State with responsibility for the Circular Economy, Ossian Smyth, opened public consultation on draft regulations on Monday — with a November 25th deadline.

The levy is intended to incentivise people to choose to reuse and it will operate in a similar way to the plastic bag levy. Consumers will be able to use a reusable cup when buying a hot drink or pay the levy for a disposable one.


The consultation seeks to obtain the views of the public, business and other parties. “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,” Mr 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,” he said.

It was not to raise revenue, but proceeds would be ring-fenced in a circular economy fund for projects relating to environmental and climate change objectives, he said.

The levy, being introduced through secondary legislation, will be extended to include single-use cups for cold drinks and other single-use items over time.

The Irish paper packaging industry and disposable cup manufacturer Cup Print called on the Minister to exempt certified recyclable and certified compostable products with established waste collection streams.

Cup Print is a Co Clare-based manufacturer of paper-based packaging that supplies cafes and retailers with custom-branded coffee cups, specialising in certified compostable and certified recyclable paper cups. It uses plant-based bioplastic coating that provides a moisture barrier to prevent scalding and leakage.

To reach adequate standards of biodegradability, certified compostable products, including cups, containers and lids require industrial composting conditions, as the Irish climate, like all of northern Europe, does not have adequate temperature requirements for small-scale composting.

Terry Fox, general manager of Cup Print, called on the Government to exempt certified recyclable and compostable products “from this punitive levy and not stand in the way of further progress in the development of renewable fibre cups in Ireland.”

Many of its customers had sourced certified compostable and recyclable products, and the announcement of a public consultation to advance the latte levy “is another blow to them during an exceptionally difficult time”, Mr Fox said.

Kevin O'Sullivan

Kevin O'Sullivan

Kevin O'Sullivan is Environment and Science Editor and former editor of The Irish Times