Chambers Ireland, the voice of business throughout Ireland, has today called for the draft general scheme of the Circular Economy Bill 2021 to include comprehensive legislative powers to enable the achievement of our national waste and emissions reductions targets.
In upholding the Sustainable Development Goals, Chambers Ireland along with its Network of Chambers, are keen supporters of the circular economy. For businesses, it provides the chance to reduce costs, improve raw material supply chains and increase opportunities to diversify into new business models and markets, thus attracting a variety of new customers. It also allows for a resilient economy; with greater reuse, a circular economy does not need the same volume of inputs, and this reduces the impact of supply shocks.
Speaking this afternoon, Chambers Ireland Chief Executive Ian Talbot said the general scheme of the Circular Economy Bill 2021 should ensure that greater powers are given to the National Waste Collection Permit Office (NWCPO), in addition to the establishment of a statutory footing for a deposit and return scheme for plastic bottles and aluminium cans, and flexibility for the minister to alter the amount of the environment levy in due course.
“Firstly, the Waste Action Plan for a Circular Economy, published earlier this year, highlights that the powers of the NWCPO are currently hampered by legislation, preventing it from becoming a waste collection market oversight body, with roles encompassing data analytics and the management of consumer rights. Chambers Ireland is today calling for this to be overhauled under Section 14 of the current draft general scheme of the Bill so that both households and businesses can be empowered to achieve optimum waste results through better consumer protection.
“Secondly, the Waste Action Plan for a Circular Economy also outlines that the introduction of a deposit and return scheme for plastic bottles and aluminium cans was to be commenced through the underpinning of legislation in Q3 2021. This has not been achieved, even though the consultation process took place almost one year ago.
“We know that Ireland is falling short of the required levels of recycling and could face substantial fines if we continue to neglect this. That is why we are today calling for the inclusion of provisions in the Bill to establish a statutory footing for a deposit and return scheme for plastic bottles and aluminium cans which has the potential to drastically improve recycling targets across Ireland.
“Finally, the cost of the environment levy must be addressed. The aim of the levy should be such that it deters consumption and waste-inducing behaviours. For this reason, we are proposing that the capped €1 levy per item stated in the Bill be removed from the primary legislation, as that may not be sufficient to alter behaviours in the future. Flexibility should instead be given to the Minister to alter the amount of the levy in accordance with the product classification, and that this should be put into effect through secondary legislation.
“For society as a whole, the circular economy presents huge employment and innovation opportunities that will be essential in the post-Covid-19 recovery. Managed well, the transition to the circular economy will have major benefits for the labour market, including the creation of job opportunities and reducing inequalities through a redistribution of value.”