88 per cent of Irish in favour of ‘all-in’ DRS

The results of a poll revealed yesterday (20 October), finds that 88 per cent of the population in the Republic of Ireland favour an ‘all-in’ deposit return scheme (DRS).

The poll was commissioned by environmental charity Voice of Irish Concern for the Environment (VOICE) and questioned members of the public as to whether they would support the inclusion of metal cans, plastic water bottles, plastic milk bottles, glass bottles, coffee cups, and drinks cartons and pouches in an amendment to the Irish Government’s current proposed DRS.

Mixed bottles in a crateAlmost 90 per cent of those polled responded positively, saying they would support an ‘all-in’ DRS for a wide variety of drinks containers. When asked whether they would back a variable fee for drinks containers of different sizes and materials, 78 per cent agreed.

This is slightly at odds with the DRS model the Irish Government is currently set to introduce in 2021 – which would see consumers pay a €0.20 deposit on PET plastic drinks bottles and aluminium cans only.

In light of new research from Irish Business Against Litter (IBAL), which found that drinks containers are contributing to over a quarter of litter found on Ireland’s beaches, environmental groups are campaigning for a higher deposit on plastic drinks bottles of one litre and above than the current charge proposed by the Government.

VOICE, a member-based organisation funded by a combination of public and private bodies, and Friends of the Earth Ireland are among the environmental charities that have long supported the introduction of a DRS in Ireland with both the public and the environment in mind.

Alongside other campaigns to increase recycling rates and reduce plastic pollution in Ireland, the charity founded the DRS Alliance, a group of communities and businesses calling for the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment to engage in shaping a DRS scheme for the Irish public.

Oisín Coghlan, Director of Friends of the Earth Ireland, said: “We’ve called for a deposit scheme in Ireland for years, but now we risk shooting ourselves in the foot by creating a programme that is nowhere near comprehensive enough.

“Today we call on the Government to design a scheme that includes all materials and a variable deposit level, similar to what is found in Scandinavia, to encourage sustainable choices.”

Mindy O’Brien, Coordinator of VOICE Ireland, said: “Our neighbourhoods, beaches and waterways are under siege from throwaway containers of all materials, including thousands of plastic and glass bottles, cans and coffee cups.

“The people have spoken.  This poll shows overwhelming support for an ‘all-in’ DRS with a variable deposit levy.

"We must do this at the beginning of the programme so that we don’t create market disruptions that could sway producers and consumers away from more sustainable materials towards less environmentally suitable material solely because it is not included in the DRS or because the deposit was less expensive. 

“We hope that this DRS will morph into a system that facilitates the take-back of reusable containers, such as glass bottles, to be collected, cleaned, refilled and reused over and over again.  Not only is this good for the environment, but this is good for local business, keeping jobs in Ireland.”