The forthcoming Circular Economy Bill will provide for the introduction of environmental levies on single-use disposable items, such as hot and cold beverage cups, and food containers, where more sustainable alternatives are available and affordable.
This approach is based on the very successful experience of the Plastic Bag Levy and the Landfill Levy, both of which have resulted in citizens and businesses adopting more sustainable practices.
The proposed new environmental levies are not primarily intended to be revenue raising measures, but rather to incentive shifts in consumer behaviour away from single-use items and towards re-usable alternatives. Any revenue associated with the new levies will be ring-fenced to fund the new Circular Economy Fund, which the Bill will establish in place of the existing Environment Fund. The new Fund will continue to support environmental protection initiatives while also having a specific mandate to promote the Circular Economy.
The first new environmental levy that will be introduced will be in respect of disposable hot beverage cups, and the necessary regulations will be published as a priority following enactment of the Bill.
The Bill also provides for the subsequent introduction of bans on the sale of those same classes of disposable items initially subject to the new levies, though again only where more sustainable alternatives are available and affordable. While the introduction of levies will be pursued in the first instance, I foresee bans becoming applicable in the medium term.