Environment

Producer Responsibility Initiatives

Packaging Regulations

The Waste Management (Packaging) Regulations 2014 promote the recovery of specified packaging waste. The Regulations impose obligations on all producers, including manufacturers, importers, distributors, wholesalers and retailers, who in the course of business supply packaging to the Irish market.

The Regulations came into effect on the 21st June 2014 and replaced all the preceding packaging Regulations.

How do the Regulations affect my Business?

The Regulations impose obligations on all producers who in the course of their business supply packaging to the Irish market.  All producers of packaging are obliged to separate it at source into specific waste streams (aluminium, fibreboard, glass, paper, plastic sheeting, steel and wood) and to arrange for its recovery, or return the used packaging to the supplier, if applicable.  

The Regulations place obligations on “producers” and “major producers” of packaging. 

What is meant by the term “Producer” of Packaging?

A producer is a person who in the course of business supplies packaging material to the Irish market.

A producer is required to segregate waste on-site for recycling / recovery purposes.

What is meant by the term “Major Producer” of Packaging Waste?

Your company is a “major producer” of packaging if you had a turnover of more than €1m in the preceding calendar year, based on audited accounts, and you place more than 10 tonnes of packaging on the Irish market per annum. 

Additional obligations are placed on major producers.  A major producer must register with Cork County Council or with the compliance scheme Repak.

I do not know the volume of Waste Packaging which my Business supplies. What must I do?

You will need to have an audit carried out to accurately measure the weight of packaging supplied.  The audit must be carried out by a “competent” person.  A competent person may be one of the following: 

A qualified auditor i.e. a professional accountant who is qualified to carry out an independent examination of a company’s records and / or financial accounts.
A Director of the company (if a registered company)
The Manager of the company (if not a registered company
An independent person engaged by the company to ensure compliance with their statutory obligations under the regulations ( i.e. an external environmental consultant).
If you engage the services of an independent auditor as at (1) above to prepare the packaging report, you do not require the prior approval of Cork County Council.  In the remaining three cases, the approval of Cork County Council is required in advance of the preparation of the packaging report.

Remember: this issue is only relevant if your turnover was more than €1m in the preceding calendar year.

I am a Major Producer. What are my options?

You can become a “Self-Complier” by registering with Cork County Council, if your premises is within its administrative area.
or 

You can join the compliance scheme Repak
 Self-Compliance

The requirements placed on Self-Compliers are listed below. 

You must:

  • Register each year with Cork County Council in respect of each premises (which is located in Cork County Council’s administrative area).  
  • Pay an annual fee of €15 per tonne of packaging waste supplied. There is a minimum fee of €500 and a maximum fee of €15,000. 
  • Provide adequate facilities for the public, free of charge, for the acceptance, segregation and storage of packaging waste at your premises.
  • Display a notice at each entrance advertising take-back facilities.
  • Advertise take-back facilities in local papers twice yearly.
  • Submit quarterly reports on packaging received, supplied and recovered. 
  • Prepare a Three Year Implementation Plan specifying the steps to be taken to comply with the regulations.

Guide to the Three Year Implementation Plan

  • Make the above plans / reports available to the public on request.
  • Arrange for the collection of packaging on request to anyone whom the major producers supplies.
  • Importers, pack-fillers are obliged to accept / collect specified weights of packaging each quarter. 

Repak

Repak is an approved body under the Regulations. If you choose to become a Repak member, you will be required to pay an annual fee.  In return, you will be discharged from the obligations placed on self-compliers, including the requirement to take back packaging waste. Contact details for Repak are shown below:

Address: Repak Ltd., Redcow Interchange Estate, 1 Ballymount Road, Dublin 22.

Tel: 01 4670190  Fax: 01 4670197

Website: www.repak.ie

Email:  info@repak.ie

I am not a Major Producer.  What must I do?

You must provide evidence to Cork County Council to support your claim.  Examples include:

  • A copy of your audited accounts for the preceding year or a statement from an Accountant confirming your turnover for the previous year.
  • A report from a Packaging Audit carried out by a competent person showing that you supplied 10 tonnes or less to the market.  

There are four categories of “competent” persons as explained  in the previous Question “I do not know the volume of Waste Packaging which my Business supplies. What must I do?”

(Remember: You do not need to undertake a Packaging Audit if you can demonstrate that your turnover in the preceding calendar year was €1m or less).

My registered company owns multiple premises. Is each one taken separately?

The premises are taken together in determining turnover and weights of packaging. Totals are cumulative. Where turnover is greater than €1m and packaging produced is more than 10 tonnes, the company is a major producer and as such must either register with all the relevant local authorities OR join Repak.

What happens if I do not comply with the Regulations?

Failure to comply is an offence and can result in a fine and / or prosecution.  A person found guilty of an offence shall be liable to: 

  • On summary conviction to a fine not exceeding €3,000 and / or imprisonment of up 12 months.    
  • On conviction on indictment to a fine not exceeding €15,000,000 and / or imprisonment for up to 10 years.

(Section 10, Waste Management Act 1996, as amended).

What is the role of Cork County Council?

Cork County Council is responsible for enforcing the legislation within its functional area and must ensure that every business is in full compliance.  It has general powers to inspect all business premises and to request any relevant documentation or a Packaging Report. 

Plastic Bag Levy

What is the Environmental (Plastic Bag) Levy?

The Environmental Plastic Bag Levy is a levy that was first introduced on 4th March 2002 by the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government as a means of reducing the consumption of plastic shopping bags and to encourage the use of reusable bags. The amount of the levy was initially 15 cent per bag. The levy was increased to 22 cent per bag on 1st July 2007.

What is the law in relation to the Environmental Levy - Plastic Bag Regulations?

View the legislation in relation to the Plastic Bag Levy at the following links:

Waste Management (Environmental Levy) (Plastic Bag) (Amendment) (No. 2) Regulations 2007 - S.I. No. 167/2007 amending SI No. 605 of 2001

Waste Management (Environmental Levy) (Plastic Bag) Regulations, 2001 - S.I. No. 605/2001

What is the purpose of the Environmental Levy - Plastic Bag Regulations?

Plastic bags are a visible and persistent component of litter pollution in urban, rural and coastal settings and they undermine Ireland's clean, green image.

The levy on plastic shopping bags has a strong anti-litter emphasis. An environmental levy on the use of plastic bags offers an appropriate solution towards reducing the consumption of plastic shopping bags and thereby reducing the consequential environmental problem of litter.

What is deemed to be a plastic bag under the Environmental Levy - Plastic Bag Regulations?

Under the Regulations a plastic bag means a bag make wholly or in part of plastic, including biodegradable plastic, which is suitable for use by a customer in a sales outlet, (supermarket, service station, fast food outlet, off licence etc.), other than a bag which is exempted under the regulations, see below.

Paper bags with a laminate plastic coating and/or handles made wholly or in part of plastic are deemed to be plastic bags - therefore the levy also applies to them under the regulations.

Who has obligations under the Environmental Levy - Plastic Bag Regulations?

Retailers supplying plastic shopping bags to customers are required to charge the levy at the point of sale. Customers are required to pay the 22-cent levy on all relevant plastic bags. Consumers are encouraged to reuse plastic bags or use other reusable shopping bags.

Further information can be found from Revenue: Irish Tax & Customs.

What are retailers required to do in relation to the Environmental Levy - Plastic Bag Regulations?

In accordance with the "polluter pays" principle, retailers collect the levy from customers, who are of course free to reduce or eliminate their use of plastic bags. Retailers are required to separately itemise plastic bags that have a levy applied on till receipts. The levy proceeds are paid into an Environment Fund to be used to finance a range of waste management, litter and other appropriate initiatives aimed at protecting the environment.

Who does the retailer pay the levy to?

The levy is to be paid to the Collector-General. Levies collected by retailers are to be remitted to Revenue on a quarterly basis. Revenue generated from the Plastic Bag Environmental Levy goes into the Environmental Fund.

Enquiries in relation to the environmental levy on plastic bags should be made to: 
Services and Transactions Taxes Unit, 
Collector-General, 
Mill Lane, 
Listowel, 
Co. Kerry

Email:  elevy@revenue.ie

Website: www.revenue.ie

What happens if the levy is not paid?

In fairness to those persons who meet their obligations, Revenue will ensure that early and effective action is taken against those who have a liability to the levy and fail to pay. The methods of recovery for the levy will be the same as for taxes, viz. sheriff enforcement, civil proceedings for recovery through the courts and attachment of third parties. Other enforcement methods will be used if necessary.

How much is the levy?

22 cent per leviable plastic bag, including "Bags for Life" selling below 70c.

Is the levy charged on all types of plastic bags?

No. Certain types of plastic bags are excluded from the levy, as set out in the Regulations:

Broadly the exclusions cover re-usable shopping bags that are sold for 70 cent or more. Bags used solely to contain fresh meat, fish, ice or poultry (whether packaged or otherwise) and bags used solely to contain loose fruit and vegetables and other foods that are not otherwise packaged and bags that do not exceed 225mm in width (exclusive of any gussets), by 345mm in depth (inclusive of any gussets), by 450mm in length, (inclusive of any handles) are not leviable.

How will a customer know that the levy has been imposed on plastic bags supplied to the customer?

The retailer is obliged to pass on the levy to the customer and the levy will have to be itemised on any invoice, till receipt or docket issued to the customer. Retailers must pass on the full amount of the levy as a charge to customers at the checkout.

What are the alternatives to Disposable Plastic Bags?

Alternatives to disposable plastic shopping bags, such as reusable bags are now available in shops. The consumer has changed to using these alternatives. Plastic shopping bags designed for re-use are exempt from the levy provided the retailer charges at least 70 cent for the bag.

If I am not charged the 22 cent levy for a leviable plastic bag what should I do?

Retailers are required to comply with the law and charge for plastic bags where appropriate. If you wish to complain about a retailer who is not charging for plastic bags, you should contact your local authority.

Enforcement Section,
Cork County Council.

Tel: 021 4532700.

Who can I contact in Cork County Council regarding the Plastic Bag Levy?

Marie O’Connor, 
Environmental Enforcement Officer, 
Cork County Council. 
Tel: 021 4532700
Email:  environ@corkcoco.ie

Who can I contact in Revenue regarding the Plastic Bag Levy?

Services and Transactions Taxes Unit, 
Collector-General, 
Mill Lane, 
Listowel, 
Co. Kerry

Email:  elevy@revenue.ie

Website: http://www.revenue.ie