Saturday 24 August 2019

Supermarkets that fail to reduce plastic packaging will be 'named and shamed' - Richard Bruton

Irish Environment Minister Richard Bruton said that Ireland needs to do more to deliver its fight against climate change.
Irish Environment Minister Richard Bruton said that Ireland needs to do more to deliver its fight against climate change.
Hugh O'Connell

Hugh O'Connell

Climate Change Minister Richard Bruton is to look at a ‘name and shame’ system for supermarkets that fail to reduce the amount of plastic packaging used on food products.

The government’s climate action plan includes an ambition to halve the overall amount of food wasted in Ireland, reduce the use of plastics and plastic packaging and increase the overall recyclable rate by 60 per cent.

Mr Bruton, who plans to hold a conference on the plastics issue in September, said today he will take a tougher stance with supermarkets. This will be done with regulations if necessary and will involve extracting pledges from companies to reduce their carbon footprint. There will also be higher waste management fees on those companies that create more non-recyclable rubbish.

Speaking to reporters at the MacGill Summer School in Glenties, Co Donegal, Mr Bruton also signalled the introduction of a system of ‘name and shame’ for supermarkets that don’t reduce their use of plastic packaging sufficiently.

Mr Bruton said: “We have a very ambitious schedule. We will be changing the fee structures so that companies that create waste will pay higher fees for waste that is difficult to manage and we will be seeking for more carbon pledges or plastic pledges from companies who are in the retail and manufacturing area so this is an area where we can set very strong ambitions.'

“We will take a tougher stance. Firstly by modulating the fees, so there will be a charge, so those with an excess or non-recyclables will be paying more but we will proceed if necessary by regulation.

“We have set these targets, we will look at the suite of policies, some of them will be incentive and some will obviously be testing new ways of managing our waste streams, but I am determined that we will have an action plan, if you like, for the plastics that we can monitor and deliver and oversee in the very same way of other elements in the plan.'

Asked about a system of ‘name and shame’ for supermarkets, Mr Bruton said: "Yes, I think that will be an element of this. It will be about getting people to sign up to pledges for change, it will be charging those but it will also be empowering consumers because I think it is consumers that are really driving this agenda.

“But we can improve collection methods, reduce contamination, which is a huge problem that all of us have to share in and get a better understanding of what we can and can't recycle, use the compulsory take-back schemes, extend those to new areas so all of that will be on the agenda.”

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