Environmental groups welcome Fine Gael Senator’s support for plastic bottle deposit return scheme

Ireland’s leading environmental coalition welcomes support from Fine Gael Senator Catherine Noone for a deposit and return system on plastic bottles, and calls on her party’s leaders to follow suit.

The Environmental Pillar – a coalition of 28 national environmental organisations – is pleased to see the Senator’s support of this progressive policy which she says will put Ireland “on the path to becoming a leader in plastic recycling”. [1]

The introduction of a deposit system on plastic bottles to encourage recycling is similar to the very popular and effective scheme for glass bottles that was once the norm in Ireland.

This scheme petered out once Ireland joined the rest of the world in using single-use drinks containers. As a result, we now generate around 3 billion single-use plastic bottles every year. [2]

We believe that the State should go even further and bring in a series of measures to cut down on our plastic consumption, encourage behavioural change and also net the State additional revenue.

 Such measures include: 

  • A levy on all single-use non-compostable items
  • A microbeads ban that the Government said it would bring in last year [3]

The above-proposed policy recommendations were included in the Pillar’s Budget 2018 submission and ultimately ignored by the Government. [4]

With the Green Party’s Waste Reduction Bill 2017 currently before the Environment Committee for scrutiny, the State has an opportunity to support policy to tackle our escalating plastic problem. [5]

Our Plastic Problem

Our current system to tackle waste is clearly failing, with the likes of plastic bottles and disposable coffee cups continuing to foul our countryside and destroy our marine environment.

By 2015, humans produced 6.3 billion tonnes of plastic waste – equivalent to the mass of 620,000 Eiffel Towers or 60 million blue whales.

Shockingly, only 9 per cent of this plastic waste was recycled and 79 per cent went to landfill or found its way into the environment. The remaining 12 per cent was incinerated. [6]

In a survey released just last week, Coastwatch Ireland found that over 80 per cent of surveyed coastal sites contained litter, with an average of 18 plastic bottles found every 500 meters. [7]

Environmental Pillar spokesperson and Co-Director of the Sick of Plastic Campaign, Mindy O’Brien, said:

“It’s great to see a Fine Gael Senator calling for a deposit scheme for plastic bottles.

“Her party colleague, Hildegarde Naughton, is chairing the Committee that will decide whether to proceed with Green Party’s Waste Reduction Bill 2017 to introduce a deposit scheme. Does Senator Noone’s statement Fine Gael will now support the Bill?”

“We are a long way from reducing the amount of waste packaging generated and the amount of single-use disposable items discarded in this country and need action now.

“Every year we delay laying out our vision for the future of our country, the less we will be able to cope with the ever-increasing load of plastic waste causing great stress to our environment, both on land and at sea.”

Environmental Pillar spokesperson and Co-Director of the Sick of Plastic Campaign, Oisin Coghlan, said:

“Vested interests in IBEC and Repak have been resisting the introduction of a deposit scheme for plastic bottles, despite public support for the idea.

“Every political party will have to decide which side they are on. So far the Government has been dithering. I hope Fine Gael is now coming off the fence.”


[1] Senator Catherine Noone, 19 February 2028: https://goo.gl/LUHJ6L[2] See Repak graph below for the year 2015:

Material Produced (tonnes) Recycled (tonnes) Number of containers recycled Not Recycled (tonnes) Number of containers not recycled Percentage Recycled
Glass Packaging 143,598 125,772 629 mill 17,826 89 mill 88%
Plastic Bottles 39,501 27,535 2.12 bill 11,966 920 mill 70%
Aluminium Cans 8,733 4,778 318.5 mill 3,955 263.7 mill 55%

[3] In November 2016, then Minister for Housing Simon Coveney wrote to the European Commission to inform them of the Government’s plans to introduce legislation banning microbeads in 2017: https://goo.gl/MgHnTQ[4] The Pillar submission outlined three key proposals to protect our natural environment, bring in over €200m in additional revenue, and bolster an ailing Environment Fund: https://goo.gl/1hWwAK[5] Green Party Waste Reduction Bill FactSheet: https://goo.gl/2ZGjsB[6] ScienceAdvances, Production, use, and fate of all plastics ever made, 5 July 2017: https://goo.gl/sUUucV[7] Plastic bottles found at over 80 per cent of coastal sites, new study finds: https://goo.gl/BHPwXG

Notes for Editor:

About the Environmental Pillar

The Environmental Pillar is a national social partner, comprising 28 national environmental organisations.  It works to promote the protection and enhancement of the environment, together with the creation of a viable economy and a just society, without compromising the viability of the planet on which we live for current and future generations of all species and ecosystems.

About the Sick of Plastic Campaign

The Sick of Plastic campaign aims to dramatically reduce single-use plastic waste in Ireland. The campaign is seeking a ban or levy on plastic coffee cups and a deposit and return scheme. In addition, the campaign plans to press supermarkets to reduce the plastic packaging on the products they sell.