New 20 cent levy on disposable cups to come into effect by year end

A new Bill, which has been approved by Cabinet, aims to make Ireland the first country in the world to eliminate the use of disposable coffee cups
New 20 cent levy on disposable cups to come into effect by year end

Olivia Kelleher

A 20 cent levy on disposable coffee cups is expected to come in to effect by the fourth quarter of this year according to Minister of State at the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communication Ossian Smyth.

The Junior Minister spoke to Morning Ireland on RTÉ Radio 1 where he confirmed that the Circular Economy Bill 2021 will lay out the necessary legislative basis for the levy.

The aim is to reduce and ultimately eliminate the 200 million cups that are thrown away each year.The Circular Economy Bill will also involve the harvesting of CCTV footage to detect and deter illegal dumping and littering.

Mr Symth said that approval for the new changes will be made at European Union level.

"That will take about three months. They will want to make sure we are not interfering with the Single Market," he explained.

"Once we get a licence to go ahead and do this I expect that will take towards the end of the year. So it will be the fourth quarter of the year before you see it (the levy) when you go in to a café.

"So there will be plenty of time over the summer to get used to using a Keep cup. I have a collapsible Keep cup that goes flat in to my pocket and also smaller ones for a flat white.

"There is a lot of practical ways to do this. It doesn't have to be a big difficulty.

"It is very similar to the plastic bag levy. So people will remember when that came in we were using a giant number of plastic bags and after the levy came in the reduction was 95 per cent in the use of plastic bags."

Changing consumer habits

Mr Smyth says that the aim is not to raise money from the levy but to change consumer habits.

"I am hoping that there a reduction (in use of disposable cups). That people will switch. The levy is going to be 20 cent for a start."

The Bill, which has been approved by Cabinet, aims to make Ireland the first country in the world to eliminate the use of disposable coffee cups.

Meanwhile, Mr Smyth added that they will be empowering local authorities to use CCTV footage to bring prosecutions to stop fly tipping.

"This has been a problem in the past. At a beauty spot where there is regular black spot littering and dumping local councils have tried to collect the evidence they need to convict people and have found that run up against privacy laws and data protection laws. So they needed legislation to underpin this.

"Now a local authority will have the power to put in CCTV in a specific place for a specific purpose.

"It is going to be very limited because I don't want massive surveillance coming out of this.

"There are litter black spots. We won't be able to 100 per cent eliminate it, but there are black spots and at the moment even in places where we know regular dumping is going on it has been very difficult to use CCTV for evidence. This is absolutely needed."

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