Polluter Pays Principle

In the last ten years our awareness and policies on waste management have improved. As previously shown the legislative framework is the Waste Management Act 1996, as amended by the Waste Management (Amendment) Act 2001 and the Protection of the Environment Act 2003.

With waste infrastructure and recycling increasing, Government policy has swung towards producer responsibility. This policy puts the burden on Irish householders and businesses to make sure their waste is properly managed. Such obligations were used initially for packaging waste and farm plastic and more recently on waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE), end-of-life vehicles (ELVs) and tyres.

The one 'polluter pays principle' that most affects people in their everyday lives is the plastic bag levy, which put a 22 cent charge on each plastic bag.

The Batteries Directive (Directive 2006/66/EC on batteries and accumulators) was transposed into Irish law and came into effect in December 2008. The Directive enhances the use of producer liability for waste management.

Around the country, waste is managed by different county councils and more information can be found on the EPA's website in the section on regional waste management plans.

Ireland has been compliant with all statutory packaging recovery targets set since 2001. A recovery rate of 79 per cent is reported for packaging waste in 2011 (EPA, 2014), exceeding the 2011 EU target of 60 per cent. See the graph below for records of Ireland's progress since 2001.

Recovery of Packaging Waste 2001-2011 and Progress Towards Targets.
(EPA, 2014.)

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