Dáil Éireann - Volume 597 - 09 February, 2005
Written Answers - Environmental Policy.
Ms B. Moynihan-Cronin Ms B. Moynihan-Cronin
96. Ms B. Moynihan-Cronin asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he has plans to introduce controls on the use of polystyrene as a packaging material,  especially when used as packing for electrical goods, in view of the fact that it is not recyclable and is bulky and difficult to dispose of; his estimate of the amount of polystyrene produced in this way; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3900/05]
Mr. Roche Mr. Roche
Mr. Roche: Polystyrene is widely used internationally as protective packaging in the transport of electrical and other goods. While such packaging can be recycled, for example, for insulation purposes, manufacture of roof tiles, window frames and so forth, there are limited outlets for it in Ireland. Recycling of this material is hindered by its high volume to weight ratio and the associated costs of collection. There are no official data on the amount of polystyrene placed on the Irish market.
Article 18 of European Parliament and Council Directive 1994/62/EC on packaging and packaging waste prohibit member states from impeding the placing on the market of packaging which satisfies the provisions of the directive, that is, which is in accordance with the essential requirements specified in annex II of the directive as to the composition and the reusable and recoverable nature of packaging. On foot of these provisions, the introduction of controls on polystyrene protective packaging, such as that used on electrical goods, is not under consideration.
The litter monitoring body, which is co-ordinated by my Department, has published two reports to date in respect of the years 2002 and 2003 which provide valuable statistical data on litter pollution in Ireland. Fast food take-away bags and wrappers, much of which comprise polystyrene, have been identified as the largest litter component in the packaging litter category, which is the third largest category of litter after cigarette and food related litter. In the light of the findings of the first litter monitoring body report published in July 2003 in respect of the year 2002, my predecessor announced the intention to take measures to tackle litter caused by fast food packaging, together with chewing gum and ATM receipts which were also identified as significant elements of litter pollution. To this end, a consultancy study was commissioned to analyse and recommend appropriate economic instruments, including environmental levies, that might be implemented to tackle the litter problems caused by these items.
In their report, the consultants recommend in relation to fast food packaging that a negotiated agreement should be concluded between Government and the fast food sector involving the putting in place of litter protocols, action plans, targets and so forth. It would be my intention to seek a commitment to the phasing out of the use of polystyrene in fast food packaging in favour of biodegradable materials, as part of any such negotiated agreement. A final decision on the proposed action to deal with fast food packaging will be taken shortly on foot of the conclusion of  a public consultation process which was put in place after the publication of the consultant’s report.
Question No. 97 answered with Question No. 80.
Dáil Éireann 597 Written Answers Environmental Policy.