"This is really important" – Duncan Stewart on proposed fast food container levy

The Government is considering a new tax similar to the plastic bag levy...

"This is really important" – Duncan Stewart on proposed fast food container levy

Kilkenny Castle | Photocall file photo

New taxes on disposable fast food containers, cans and plastic bottles could be in the pipeline.

Department of the Environment officials have drawn up briefing notes for Minister Simon Coveney on potential new levies and they are recommending to the Government that their introduction would have the "twin benefit" of "positively influencing consumer behaviour" and boosting "diminishing revenues" from levies on plastic bags and landfill use.

The amount taken from those two fell by almost €12m between 2013 and 2014.

Speaking to Newstalk Breakfast, broadcaster and environmentalist Duncan Stewart welcomed the proposal.

He said:

"This is really important. I think the Minister is taking the right approach here.

"For a long time our TV programme, Echo Eye, has been talking about the need to bring in a levy on all the disposable waste we produce in packaging, that producers of products basically force on us.

"When we go into supermarkets to buy products, we've no choice but all of these containers are there. And the same applies with drinks containers. All these plastic bottles, aluminium cans, beers cans, and bottles and fast food containers...

"All of these disposable things, we use in literally one minute and then they get either dumped in nature – an awful lot of them end up in parks and in rivers and then eventually in the sea doing massive damage to wildlife – and none of the producers take any responsibility for the fact that they produce these and push them on to customers simply to sell their products.

"And we have no choice as consumers. So an awful lot of this ends up being totally abused and ends up in the wrong places."

Stewart reckoned that levies would not only influence consumer behaviour, as with the plastic bag levy, but also change how manufacturers operate:

"It sends a very strong signal to manufacturers that they need to change, if the levy is high enough. If it's too low, then it's not going to change anything."

 

He recommended a deposit-refund scheme, saying it would "force the situation":VAT

"The return would be over 90%. Deposit-refund is all over Europe, in most western European countries, and it works incredibly well."