Households will be 'paid' to return empty drink cans
Households will be paid to return aluminium and plastic drinks containers under a pilot scheme to be rolled out in Co Tipperary.
But Environment Minister Denis Naughten has opposed plans for a national roll-out of a deposit and return scheme (DRS) because he says it has not been costed.
The Waste Reduction Bill from the Green Party proposes charging producers of plastic bottles and aluminium drinks cans 1c for every item placed on the market, with consumers expected to pay a deposit of 15c when purchasing the drink.
The money from producers would be used to fund the scheme, while consumers would receive a refund when the can or bottle was properly disposed of.
The Green Party says that similar systems are in place in Germany, France, the US and Australia and would help increase recycling rates while also generating high-quality waste which would fetch a premium on the market.
But the minister is opposed to a DRS because the cost of establishing and operating a scheme is not known, with estimates ranging from €120m to €276m.
He has proposed establishing a pilot project in Cashel, Co Tipperary, which would help assess if it helped change consumer behaviour, could be rolled-out nationally, and would not impact on household recycling collection rates. A site is being identified.
He also wants to amend the Green Party bill to give him discretion - rather than making it mandatory - to introduce a scheme after research is completed. However, the amendment failed to secure enough support at the Dáil environment committee, meaning if the bill is passed a DRS will become mandatory.
Last night, the minister said it would be "financially reckless" to proceed with a deposit scheme "without proper scrutiny and using an evidence based approach".
"Based on figures presented to the committee the impact could be as low as a 1pc increase in the amount of household recycling", he said.
But Green Party leader Eamon Ryan said the scale of the problem meant that action was needed now.
"The minister says he wants to do it but there are implications and wants more analysis," he said. "To my mind, I think the pilot scheme is too small. To do it on a piecemeal basis is not the scale we want."
The Government is not opposed to other measures in the Green Party bill, including a ban on single-use plastics include straws and cutlery, and a possible levy on disposable coffee cups.