CONSUMERS are being charged an average of 60pc more for buying eco-friendly products, a shocking new survey shows.
Research carried out by the Consumers' Association found that many items marketed as kind to the environment are anything but kind to the pocket, as they are more than double the price of regular goods.
Business body IBEC denied yesterday that the massive premium being incurred by consumers for buying recycled and biodegradable products was a rip-off.
"Ecological" baby wipes were three-and-a-half times dearer than regular baby wipes, the research, seen by the Irish Independent, shows.
Biodegradable nappies were twice as expensive as the regular ones, according to the survey, while recycled toilet roll was 74pc dearer than the ordinary version.
A basket of 13 goods bought in various shops worked out at €78.77 for the ordinary version of the groceries. The basket contained everything from kitchen rolls to detergents to paint.
But the cost of the basket, if green versions of the same items were bought, jumped to €123, researcher Aisling Murtagh found. The average price difference worked out at 63pc.
A similar survey in Britain found a 44pc difference in prices for regular and green products.
"Some of the products were recycled, biodegradable and others described as 'ecological'.
"We found that you will pay an average of 60pc more for the greener product," Ms Murtagh wrote in the current issue of 'Consumer Choice' magazine.
Only one of the products surveyed -- dishwasher tablets -- was less expensive for the green version.
Baby products were found to have the highest premium.
So-called eco nappies were just over twice as costly as the standard version for a pack of 42.
Pampers Active Fit cost €7.78 in Superquinn, but Moltex White Eco Nappies, which are described as biodegradable, cost €15.99 in the same store.
Chief executive of the Consumers Association Dermott Jewell accused manufacturers and retailers of exploiting consumers' willingness to protect the environment.
"We are not sure that consumers are aware that the prices for green products are so high. It is a rip-off and we would question the need for such a gap in prices."
Turloch Denihan of IBEC's Retail Ireland said he was surprised the research found such a large difference between the prices for green products and regular ones.
But he said there was bound to be a premium for green products as the production processes were often different and green goods are often for a niche market.
"If it costs the retailer more, he has to sell it for more. If retailers are overcharging they will not sell many," he said.