The Irish government's Department of Environment, Community and Local Government is consulting on a possible levy on packaging; however, nothing has yet been confirmed. The levy, which was claimed will help "educate" the consumer, has already been criticised as being a way to raise money and "having nothing to do with the environment"
The Irish government's proposal for a "possible" packaging levy or tax would - according to The Industry Council for Packaging and the Environment (INCPEN) - will incur a number of negative outcomes, who have said it will: put Irish companies at a severe competitive disadvantage; impact more heavily on poorer citizens; be completely inequitable and is double taxation; and encourage consumers to cross the border to Northern Ireland for their regular shopping.
INCPEN said it recognises the urgent need for revenue-raising programmes but taxing packaging would have an adverse effect on both business and consumers and is likely to lead to decreased revenue if Irish consumers cross the border.
The packaging council also said a tax on packaging would have absolutely no impact on the amount of packaging waste generated because that depends on social and demographic trends and the amount of used packaging that is reused or recycled.
In 2009 the Green Dot fees paid by Irish packaged products supply chain companies raised packaging recycling rates to 64.9 percent, only five other European countries achieved a higher rate.
INCPEN Director Jane Bickerstaffe says: "The Irish government coalition partners suggested in their manifestos that the tax could raise 60-80 million euros a year. This would generate much less than 2 percent of the revenue needed and the costs for the Irish economy would be considerable.
"The suggestion that a tax could be based on a 1999 Danish tax overlooks the fact that their tax is instead of the Green Dot system, not additional to it. Combining a tax with the Green Dot fee would make Irish packaging the most expensive in Europe."
The proposal also overlooks the vital role that packaging plays in reducing the environmental impact of delivering and using packaged goods by reducing damage, spoilage and wastage of the goods themselves, INCPEN claims.
INCPEN's final message was that inadequate packaging is far worse for the environment than over-packaging, since 10-15 times more energy and materials are locked up in household goods and food than in the packaging around them.
For more information visit www.doeni.gov.uk