I propose to take Question Nos. 26 and 61 together.
The consultancy report commissioned to carry out an analysis and recommend appropriate economic instruments to tackle problematic litter items identified in the 2003 litter monitoring body report, that is chewing gum, fast food packaging and automated teller machine, ATM, receipts, was released for public consultation on 23 September 2004.
In relation to chewing gum, the consultants' report proposed two options: a mandatory 10% levy on chewing gum sales, an average 5 centper pack, to be collected at manufacturer-importer-distributor level, which would generate an estimated €4-5 million per annum for use in paying towards the clean-up costs of chewing gum litter, or a negotiated agreement between my Department and the industry involving the putting in place of a comprehensive action plan, incorporating intensive education and awareness campaigns, and including agreed funding levels with agreed tangible targets and timeframes, aimed at changing consumer behaviour in relation to chewing gum disposal and reducing gum litter.
The purpose of the public consultation process was to obtain the views of relevant stakeholders and other interested parties on the report's recommendations. The deadline for the receipt of comments and submissions under the public consultation phase was 29 October 2004.
During the public consultation phase, I held a meeting with representatives of the chewing gum industry to discuss the consultants' report. The industry outlined measures and solutions that it was prepared to implement by way of a negotiated agreement as a means of addressing the chewing gum litter problem.
It is intended that a final decision will be made on this matter before the end of the year on foot of evaluating the submissions received during the public consultation process.