Extra bins and money back on cans and bottles among initiatives to tackle litter

Ryan announces over €8 million funding for litter prevention ahead of outdoor summer

Recoupable deposits of 20 cent on cans and bottles are set to return as part of a wider Government initiative to reduce the incidence of litter in Ireland.

Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications Eamon Ryan announced a total of over €8 million funding for litter prevention and anti-dumping in preparation for a summer in which most social activities will happen outdoors.

The latest results from national litter pollution monitoring show cigarette butts, packaging litter, food litter and sweets-related litter to be the main sources of litter in Irish communities.

One initiative which will be introduced at a later stage is a deposit return scheme for plastic bottles and cans, which forms a core part of the Government’s Waste Action Plan which has 200 actions.


“Anyone involved in community litter clean-ups will realise that cans and bottles are a huge part of the litter, especially in the past year when people are out socialising, leaving a can or bottle behind.

“There is a huge push on the producers of packaging, business community, making sure they play their part, ensuring consumers do not have as much packaging,” said Mr Ryan.

Asked how much the deposit would be for a return, he said the exact figure had not been agreed as yet but he said it could be around 20 cent. He said aluminium cans had intrinsic value and they could be recycled without smelting.

Deposit return schemes were in existence in Ireland (mainly for glass bottles and cans) for many years but were discontinued in the 1990s.

Extra bins

Mr Ryan said €5 million of the funding would be used to provide additional bins including smart solar-compacting bins. A future €3 million will be provided to local authorities in support of anti-dumping initiatives. Since 2017, over 300 local projects have removed 10,000 tonnes of illegally dumped waste from the landscape.

“The key message to communities is to leave no trace behind. It is the summer to be out and have a good time, the likes of along our canal, along our rivers and along our coast but to leave no trace behind, to pick up the litter and to help the Councils work too,” said Mr Ryan.

He said the 5 kilometre restrictions had changed people’s mindsets on their local areas with many people getting angry at excessive litter being dumped.

Asked was the proposal to allow 3,000 spaces for outdoor dining in Temple Bar excessive, he said outdoors had worked and there had been good examples in places like Cork where 18 streets were converted for outdoor use. He said Temple Bar was an extensive area.

“We also need a place where people can meet where they can have a social life. Doing it outdoors is much safer and a much better way of doing it,” he said.

He also said that in the vast majority of cases people had been well behaved when outdoors, even when consuming alcohol.

“We have seen people operating within social distance and with care. The gardaí have policed it reasonably well. They have moved people on. It is not over policed. Where people are not thrashing an area or annoying local residents, what has been going on has worked well.

“We are not going to stop people spending the summer outdoors. We want to encourage it.”

Harry McGee

Harry McGee

Harry McGee is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times