I propose to take Questions Nos. 198 to 200, inclusive, together.
The Circular Economy Bill 2021, which was approved by Government for priority drafting in June this year, aims to support Ireland’s transition to a circular economy by providing the necessary legislative basis for several key measures including the Circular Economy Strategy; the Circular Economy Programme; the National Food Loss Prevention Roadmap; and the Circular Economy Fund. The Bill also gives the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications the power to introduce environmental levies on certain single-use items, and to prohibit their placing on the market where a suitable re-usable alternative is, or could be made, readily available. These measures will be introduced by means of secondary legislation.
Building on the success of the plastic bag and landfill levies, the proposed new economic instruments are intended to incentivise more sustainable consumer behaviours, and not to be revenue raising measures. Therefore, it was deemed appropriate to cap the maximum rate chargeable while ensuring that this maximum was set at a level which ensured that the levies could retain their dissuasive effect over time, taking account of the potential for inflation over the lifespan of the levies. A €1 maximum was deemed appropriate to meet these requirements. The initial rate of the levy will be set by way of secondary legislation and is expected to be significantly lower than the €1 maximum provided for in the Bill.
The measures in the Bill have been the subject of extensive consultation as part of the development of both the Government’s Waste Action Plan for a Circular Economy and the forthcoming Circular Economy Strategy, due to be published shortly. In respect of the Waste Action Plan, stakeholders are also represented through a cross-sectoral Waste Advisory Group. This forum has proved very successful, and a Circular Economy Advisory Group will be established to provide for a similar approach to the implementation of the Circular Economy Strategy. Where any measures provided for in the Bill are to be introduced by way of secondary legislation, these measures will be the subject of further consultation with all relevant stakeholders.