I welcome the opportunity to raise this extremely important issue. The tyre industry accepts that it must comply with duty of care obligations and protect the environment. All tyres collected, recycled or repossessed should be disposed of or reused in an environmentally friendly manner using acceptable methods, whether recycled or used as fuel in cement kilns. The proposal by the Department will have serious consequences for the tyre industry, including potential job losses. Contrary to the Department's ambition for the new scheme, it could be destructive to the environment because it will drive suppliers to stockpile used tyres before illegally dumping them.
Under the proposal, the cost of disposing of tyres will increase by in excess of 200%. Under the current self-compliant system, tyre wholesalers and retailers are required to dispose of waste tyres via licensed collectors. The average cost of disposing of a tyre is €1, which is not passed on to customers. Under the new scheme, a full producer responsible initiative will apply and Repak and WEEE Ireland will be appointed as the monopoly collectors and recyclers for the entire industry and an across-the-board green tax will be imposed on tyres to cover the costs of recycling.
The Minister circulated a letter to the industry in which he referred to the "formalisation" of the existing charge. This is factually incorrect because the current charge of €1 is dictated by market forces and competition for the collection and disposal of used tyres. Under the new scheme, the charge will increase to €3 for a car tyre, €15 for a truck tyre and €20 for a tyre used in agricultural vehicles. The trebling of the cost of disposing of tyre waste amounts to another stealth tax on hard-pressed families. Moreover, the charges are only fixed for a period of two years, after which the European average will dictate the charge.
Given the nature of the haulage industry, businesses which dispatch vehicles across the Border or to the United Kingdom and other European countries will have tyres replaced in other jurisdictions where the charge does not apply. The tyre industry informs me that, under the new scheme, it will cost an additional €200 to change a set of truck tyres. It will be just as convenient for haulage companies to purchase tyres in Britain or on the Continent as it will be to replace them here. This will have a detrimental impact on tyre retailers who employ in excess of 200 people in my home town. This is a good industry providing good employment and it will be detrimentally affected by the new measures.
The new scheme will also have a detrimental impact on the environment as the substantial increase in the cost of tyre disposal will result in service providers stockpiling tyres. They will then be transferred to people who will not dispose of them in an environmentally friendly manner. The Minister of State, Deputy Kevin Humphreys, alluded to one such example, the burning of tyres at Hallowe'en, in an earlier conversation with me.
The tyre industry acknowledges that the current system is not fit for purpose and needs to be strengthened. If the Minister had been present - I acknowledge that I received a call from his office to apologise in advance for his absence - I would have asked him to engage with the industry to ensure any new scheme was fit for purpose, would not have a detrimental effect on the industry and would not cost consumers more or place jobs at risk.