What you need to know about the State’s far-reaching new plan to cut waste

The blueprint aims to make the Republic one of the leading states in Europe on the issue

 Cardboard, mattresses, electronics, and metal at a waste processing facility in Dublin. File photograph: Nick Bradshaw/The Irish Times

Cardboard, mattresses, electronics, and metal at a waste processing facility in Dublin. File photograph: Nick Bradshaw/The Irish Times


“A whole new waste plan for the country” is how Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Eamon Ryan describes the newly launched national waste policy for the next five years.

With 200 separate measures, the blueprint will “effect real change and allow us to be one of the leading countries in Europe” in spreading the responsibility for waste among producers and manufacturers as well as customers, Mr Ryan said.

Here are some of the main points in the plan:

– A deposit and return scheme which will see reverse vending machines reward customers for returning plastic bottles and cans with what is likely to be a voucher redeemable in shops;

– A “latte levy” on disposable coffee cups from 2022, followed by their being banned. Similar levies are proposed for containers for cold drinks and fast food;

– Standardised bin colours across the State on a phased basis, with black for general waste, green for recycling, and brown for organic waste;

– A waste oversight body to be set up for consumer complaints;

– A clampdown on householders not segregating waste, with fixed penalty fines for the worst offenders;

– Bin companies to be obliged to provide every customer with a brown organic waste bin;

– Improved segregated waste facilities for apartments;

– A single-use plastic ban starting next July, with all packaging to be reusable or recyclable by 2030;

– A ban on multi-buy packs or “buy one, get one free” offers in supermarkets, which contribute to 30 per cent of food waste, according to research;

– Retailers potentially being prohibited from throwing out food ahead of its use-by date, and making it easier to donate food;

– Measures to encourage more recycled materials in construction, with possible levies for sites that don’t separate waste in skips;

– A levy on “fast fashion”, covering cheap clothes as well as footwear and interior furnishings like carpets, curtains, bedding and furniture, so people buy “quality rather than quantity”;

– A “textile action group” to be set up to work with Irish designers and retailers to promote “eco-design”;

– More fixed penalty notices for breaches of waste law;

– Any plastic drinks container holding up to 3 litres will be banned from 2024, unless the cap is attached to the main part of the container;

– Plastic drinks bottles and containers must contain 25 per cent recycled material from January 2025, rising to 30 per cent by 2030;

– Producers of packaging will have to cover costs of clean-ups associated with food containers, packets, wrappers, drinks containers, cups and lightweight carrier bags by January 2023;

– Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) scheme – which holds makers of electrical goods, tyres and batteries responsible for their disposal – will be expanded to include tobacco companies, balloon makers and manufacturers of wet wipes and fishing gear, and

– An eventual ban on wet wipes, as well as on single-use plastic hotel toiletries and packages for restaurant condiments like sugar and sauces.