RGDATA boss cites concerns over Waste Reduction Bill

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RGDATA's director Tara Buckley has brought the concerns of retailers to the Oireachtas once again, by addressing the government's committee on climate action regarding the Waste Reduction Bill 2017.



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17 January 2018

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RGDATA director Tara Buckley has gone to bat for retailers once again, by addresing the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Communications, Climate Action and Environment, on the topic of the Waste Reduction Bill 2017.

In short, the bill (as per text on oireachtas.ie) entitles an act “to provide for a ban on single-use non-compostable cups and other tableware and for the introduction of deposit and return schemes for beverage containers”.

The urgency of tackling climate change on a global scale with immediate effect is widely known, but not implemented on a scale that will make any difference yet. In her presentation to the Committee, Buckley said that her organisation and the retailers it represents (more than 3,500 retailers of all sizes around Ireland) share the concerns that the bill seeks to address, including the need for waste reduction, increased recycling and other measures outlined in the bill.

To illustrate the support the retail industry has for tackling the waste issue, Buckley credited retailers for playing a significant role in Ireland’s highly successful recycling rates between 1997 and 2016. In that time, the amount of Ireland’s waste recycled climbed from 15% to 90%. “Our members pay significant fees to Repak to fulfill their waste management and recycling objectives, and to comply with Irish and EU regulations,” Buckley said. “RGDATA members currently pay annual fees ranging from around €1,000 to €3,500, depending on the size of their store and the amount of packaging they put on the market.”

RGDATA has concerns about aspects of the bill which should be addressed to ensure that any new legislative measures achieve their objectives without unintended consequences – which is to say unfair or unneccessary costs to retailers, or measures which turn out to be ineffective.

“With regard to the first provision of the bill,” Buckley told the committee, “we feel it is important that consumers and retailers have ready access to affordable substitutes to non-compostable beverage containers. There are concerns within the trade at both the cost and availability of these substitutes, and their ability to meet the anticipated demand.”

Buckley said there are concerns about the expectation on customers to always bring their own coffee cups or glasses to a store; there should be a viable alternative available.

Subsequently, Buckley discussed the new deposit and return scheme for retailers. She said that this legislation, combined with the existing obligations on retailers to subscribe to Repak would amount to a form of  “double compliance” that would incur significant extra costs and undermine Repak’s rationale.

“It would be an unfair system if smaller retailers found themselves inundated with containers purchased at larger outlets,” she said, “meaning they would pay the cost for managing, storing and depositing products they themselves had not placed on the market.”

ShelfLife will continue to cover developments on this Bill and its potential effect on retailers as it progresses through the House.






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