Single-Use Non-Compostable Item Levy:
A levy on single use non-compostable items will include items such as disposable coffee cups, plastic packaging and cutlery, and follow existing policy across a number of other EU member states.
We calculate that there are around 250 million cups used per annum, all of which are not recyclable, ending up in landfills, burned or littering our streets and countryside. A simple 10 cent charge on each would bring in €25 million but also behavioural change within society.
In 2014, around €90 million was spent on street cleaning and litter management. If we could prevent this throw-away culture, we could reduce this spend dramatically.
Mirroring the success associated with the Irish Plastic Bag Tax, we assert that any single-use packaging levy should be imposed at the point of sale to consumers. This makes the levy visible and allows consumers to make the choice of bringing their own containers or pressure retailers to offer compostable containers.
For drinks containers where people cannot find an easy alternative, we propose a deposit/refund scheme, which Ireland had in the past for glass bottles.
The Environmental Pillar recommends a tax of up to €2.50 to be levied on each tonne of sand, gravel, crushed stone and other aggregates extracted from the ground or lifted from the surface and used in construction.
There are many external environmental and societal costs associated with quarrying, including runoff into streams, dewatering of groundwater, damage to roads, dust, noise and vibration which are experienced by the local communities.
The rate would mirror the UK tax and would encourage the recycling of construction and demolition waste. It is expected to bring in €80 million based on an estimated 32m tonnes of aggregates produced on an annual basis in Ireland.
The aggregates levy in the UK, however, has influenced the development of a black economy where Irish aggregate has been sold up in North Ireland to avoid the levy. Adopting a similar levy in the Republic will equalise market factors and reduce the amount of aggregate crossing the border.
County Councils – which regulate and oversee quarry activities – have begun to impose development contribution levies on quarries in their planning permission to offset some external impacts arising from mining.
However, these levies do not impact quarries already under operation. We propose to extend a national levy to address the environmental and societal costs incurred from all mining activity.
Equalisation of Price for Diesel and Petrol:
We call for the equalisation of the price of diesel. This could be done over five years to allow drivers of diesel cars time to purchase new electric or fuel efficient petrol cars. It also puts new buyers on notice that diesel will no longer receive beneficial treatment.
Equalising the cost of diesel and petrol would bring around €110 million in revenue, assuming that diesel costs around €.11 less than petrol per litre and there were sales of 1 billion litres of diesel sold based on 2014 Revenue figures.
As farm vehicles comprise only 5 per cent of the diesel fleet and most tractors are only diesel, we support the continuation of the agricultural diesel subsidy.
Diesel fuel exhaust has been identified as one of the leading emitters of greenhouse gases and particulates. Apart from the known climate impacts, particulates from diesel engines are causes of a range of human health problems. According to the World Health Organization, diesel exhaust fumes can cause cancer, and emit ten times more health-damaging pollutants than petrol cars.
Diesel is charged 11c less per litre than petrol and because of this cost differential, the percentage of diesel cars sold in this country is the highest in Europe while the trend in other countries is to discourage diesel use. For example, France, Belgium and the UK have all equalised the excise tax between petrol and diesel.
The OECD has recommended equalising the rate, while the European Commission question Ireland’s policy of taxing diesel less than petrol and encourages the equalisation of price in the recently released 2017 European Semester Country-Specific Reports.
About the Environmental Pillar:
The Environmental Pillar is a national social partner, comprising 26 national environmental organisations. It works to promote the protection and enhancement of the environment, together with the creation of a viable economy and a just society, without compromising the viability of the planet on which we live for current and future generations of all species and ecosystems.
VOICE is a member-based Irish environmental charity that empowers individuals and local communities to take positive action to conserve our natural resources. It also advocates for the government and the corporate sector to adopt environmentally responsible behaviours, and for the development of strong national policies on waste and water issues.