"Recycling rates for packaging waste just keep increasing year-on-year" - stated Environment, Heritage and Local Government Minister, Mr. Dick Roche, T.D., when publishing consolidated Regulations covering the recovery and recycling of this important waste stream.
"But there is no room for complacency. We have achieved our success on the basis of a successful partnership model - with everyone playing their part. I expect all the stakeholders to continue to support recycling, as we aim to become a leading European nation in this regard."
The Minister made his remarks on the publication of the draft Waste Management (Packaging) Regulations 2007. The draft regulations aim to consolidate the existing suite of regulations to bring greater clarity, transparency and accessibility to the packaging waste regulatory regime.
They also introduce a range of integrated measures aimed at optimising the recovery and recycling of packaging waste in Ireland.
The proposed amendments to the Packaging Regulations flow from unanimous recommendations made by the National Strategy Group on Packaging Waste Recycling. The Group - comprised of the key public and private sector stakeholders, including the Department, Repak, IBEC, the Irish Waste Management Association, industry representatives, local authorities and the EPA - was established in October 2004 to develop a packaging waste strategy.
"Progress in recovering and recycling packaging waste in Ireland over the past decade has been remarkable" - said the Minister. "From a low base of just 15% in 1998 - where we trailed the rest of Europe - we recovered 60% of our packaging for recycling in 2005, meeting our EU set target for 2011 six years early.
"With more bring banks, civic amenity sites and segregated collections available, the public have shown that, given the opportunity, they are enthusiastic recyclers."
The Minister continued - "the public's appetite for recycling hasn't yet reached its limit. They are not worried about targets - but with showing their concern for the environment and saving money at the same time. But it is clear that we will exceed our EU targets in the years ahead. This is largely being driven by growth in the recovery of packaging from householders - which, in turn, is driving up the cost of recycling."
On foot of the projected increases in recycling costs being driven by the higher recovery rates, the Minister has accepted a recommendation from the National Strategy Group on Packaging Waste Recycling to amend the Packaging Regulations to require more producers to contribute to the cost of recovering and recycling waste.
"I think that this strikes the right balance. If greater recycling brings greater costs, then I believe that more suppliers of packaging - producers - should contribute to meeting this cost, rather than householders."
"Packaging waste recycling has been a phenomenal success in Ireland. We need to ensure that the regulatory regime we put in place for the next number of years will underpin further progress in this area.
"I am confident that, with the continued support of stakeholders - particularly householders - these draft Regulations will see Ireland achieve recovery and recycling rates that will be up there with the best in Europe" - the Minister concluded.
To view a copy of the draft Regulations - Click Here
DRAFT WASTE MANAGEMENT (PACKAGING) REGULATIONS 2007
The draft regulations aim to consolidate the existing suite of regulations - the existing regulations of 2003, as well as the amending regulations of 2004 and 2006, respectively - to bring improved clarity, transparency and accessibility to the packaging waste regulatory regime. They also introduce a range of integrated measures aimed at optimising the recovery and recycling of packaging waste in Ireland.
A reduction from 25 tonnes to 10 tonnes is proposed under the draft regulations to the de minimis (i.e. the thresholds to determine 'major producer' status). In light of the higher targets/volumes that have to be achieved, the proposed reduction aims to spread the burden of compliance more equitably across all obligated producers.
Further amendments are proposed to the self-compliance regime, vis-à-vis:
* the removal of provisions whereby 'major producers' could apply to cease take-back from the public under specified conditions - members of the public can now bring their packaging waste to self-compliant outlets at any time during normal business hours;
* where a 'major producers' opts to purchase packaging waste in order to fulfil their recovery/recycling targets, a minimum 20% will have to be sourced from the post-consumer waste stream.
Any packaging waste purchased must also be proportionate to the material types of packaging supplied by the 'major producers'
* the maximum self-compliance fee may be increased on an annual basis - having regard to increases in the Consumer Price Index.
A number of revisions are proposed to the 'approved body' provisions, to provide greater clarity in relation to the requirements to operate as a compliance scheme under the regulations.