WATCH: Eamon Ryan empties rubbish in Leinster House

The Green Party leader is calling for deposit system for plastic bottles

WATCH: Eamon Ryan empties rubbish in Leinster House

Green Party Leader Eamon Ryan. Image: Oireachtas TV

The Taoiseach has said the government will consider a number of environmental measures including the introduction of a system providing refunds in return for recycling.

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan caused a stir in Leinster House this afternoon when he produced a bag of unrecyclable household rubbish.

The bag contained an empty bottle of water, a plastic sandwich container, a used coffee cup and some plastic food packaging.

He called on the government to do more to protect the environment - by banning manufacturers from using unrecyclable packaging.

"We are drowning in plastic," he told the house as Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl berated him for "advertising."

Deputy Ryan's intervention comes following a deal between the government and Fianna Fáil which will see the introduction of the new bin-charges system - with a pricing watchdog to examine consumer costs.

Mr Ryan said there is 150 million tonnes of plastic in our seas - and warned that we are adding the equivalent of a full dump truck every minute to the mess.

He said the Green Party supports the government's efforts to stop sending rubbish to landfill but warned that "we need to go further."

He said that while the party supports the introduction of national pricing watchdog aimed at staving off potential 'price gouging,' the role of local government needs to be strengthened so that pricing is not left to the market.

He called for cross-party support for two measures contained in the Green Party Waste Reduction Bill - which has received the backing of a number of environmental organisations.

Waste Reduction Bill

The measures include the introduction of a deposit scheme on plastic bottles which would see customers offered 10c back on every returned bottle.

They would also ban unrecyclable take-away coffee cups and replace them with compostable cups where necessary.

Deputy Ryan said that recycling has been seen to rise by 90% in countries where similar schemes have been introduced.

"Giving money back for a bottle would save 2.5 billion plastic bottles per year going to landfill, according to VOICE Ireland," said Deputy Ryan.

"If we can get them out of the system, it is a way to start protecting against landfill use.  

"It is a win-win scenario for the householder, who would be getting money back.  Everybody would be buying into what would be a step in the right direction in the management of recycling."

Government support

The Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said the government is open to any idea that may reduce waste adding that he is committed to anything that makes it "easier for people to do the right thing or make the right choices" in terms of the environment.

He insisted that the Environment Minister Dennis Naughten is working on a number of measures - including placing large scale recycling bins directly outside supermarkets so customers can recycle before even bringing their shopping home.