IRELAND IS aiming to be the first country in the world to eliminate the use of disposable coffee cups, nearly half a million of which are sent to landfill or incineration every day, or 200 million every year.
Under the Circular Economy Bill published today, the country is aiming to shift towards a sustainable pattern of production and consumption that will minimise waste and reduce greenhouse emissions.
A circular economy is one in which waste and resources are minimised and the value and use of products is maintained for as long as possible.
This process will begin with a ban over the coming months on the use of disposable coffee cups for sit-in customers in cafés and restaurants, followed by the introduction of a small charge on disposable cups for takeaway coffees that can be avoided completely by using a keep cup.
The funds raised from the charge will be ring fences for projects relating to environmental and climate action objectives.
Local Authorities will also be empowered to use GDPR-compliant technologies such as CCTV to detect and prevent unsightly and illegal dumping and littering, the aim of which is to discourage fly-tipping.
The Bill also effectively calls time on coal exploration by ending the issuing of new licences for the exploration and mining of coal, lignite and oil shale.
Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications, Eamon Ryan TD, said the publication of the Bill "is a landmark moment in this Government's commitment to making the circular economy a reality in Ireland."
"Through a mix of economic incentives and smarter regulation we can achieve far more sustainable patterns of production and consumption that move us away from the patterns of single-use and throw-away materials and goods that are such a wasteful part of our economic model now.
"We have to re-think the way we interact with the goods and materials we use every day, if we are to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions, because 45% of those emissions come from producing those goods and materials."
Environmental levies will also be introduced for more responsible waste management behaviour, which will be implemented after the Bill is signed into law.
A mandatory segregation and incentivised charging regime for commercial waste will be introduced, similar to what already exists for the household market.
The commercial disposal of waste through a single, unsegregated bin will no longer be possible under the changes, forcing premises to manage their waste in a properly segregated manner. The government says this "should ultimately save businesses money".
Last year, single-use plastics such as cotton bud sticks, cutlery, straws and chopsticks were also banned in Ireland in compliance with EU regulations.