Irish industry warned on packaging waste

Government reviews progress of voluntary initiative to recycle packaging waste

Irish environment minister Noel Dempsey warned industry today that an existing voluntary system of recovery and recycling of packaging waste could be replaced with "alternative and onerous regulatory measures". He was speaking at a meeting convened to review the progress of Repak, an organisation created in 1997 to handle packaging waste recovery and recycling.

When the government announced plans to transpose the 1994 EU packaging waste directive into national law, it allowed Repak to be a voluntary alternative to some of the legal compulsion required by EU law (ENDS Daily 16 June 1997).

In April, Irish NGOs came together to voice their criticism of the progress of the packaging waste effort (ENDS Daily 15 April 1998). They accused the government of failing to deliver pre-election promises and Mr Dempsey of taking no action since coming to office. The NGOs promised a national campaign, coordinated by a new group called Voice.

In July, the European Commission announced it would make an application to the European Court of Justice against Ireland, alleging that not all aspects required under the packaging directive had been transposed into national law and notified (ENDS Daily 3 July 1998).

Finally, just over two weeks ago, Ireland transposed the packaging directive into national law (ENDS Daily 14 October). This was two years after the deadline for full transposition of the law.

At today's meeting, environment minister Dempsey stressed that Repak was an effective low cost solution to the packaging waste problem, compared with "more complex and onerous systems in other EU member states". Saying that " the road ahead is inevitably going to be bumpy," he agreed that the scheme was going to cost industry more than had been originally anticipated. He also saw the system as "particularly important in light of market developments arising from the impact of the UK system of packaging recovery notes".

He added: "Obviously, an increased level of support for recovery activity, better delivery of services to members, and competition from UK packaging wastes for access to reprocessing facilities, will inevitably mean increased costs for Repak."

At the meeting, Repak announced plans to initiate a new kerbside collection scheme outside Dublin, to support the expansion of existing collection facilities for recyclables around the country, and to provide direct support for member companies in recycling their packaging waste.

Follow Up:
Irish environment ministry, tel: +353 1 679 3377; Repak, tel: +353 467 0191.

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