Tipperary farm leader ponders if Government will bottle approach to Lidl recycling plans
Reacting to Lidl Ireland’s announcement that reverse vending machines’which will credit customers for depositing single use bottles and cans in them are to be installed in all of its Irish stores by 2023, the president of ICMSA and prominent Tipperary farmer, Pat McCormack, has noted that the statement of intent comes just weeks before the Government is set to unveil a national deposit return scheme to be introduced next year.
Mr McCormack said that it will be interesting to see what degree of compulsion the Government attaches to its plans and farmers will watch with interest to see whether the same regulatory apparatus, time-lines and fines will be applied to the supermarkets or whether they would be given the kind of discretion and “elasticated time-lines” notably denied to farmers.
“This is actually one of those quite revealing studies in our transition to overall climate sustainability. These ‘reverse vending machines’ that credit customers for returning single use plastic bottles and aluminium cans have been available for 30-odd years. There doesn’t seem to have been any official suggestion that Irish supermarkets should be made to install them and pay for the returns in the way that continental retailers have been doing for decades. Why is that? Why are all the politicians and special interest groups that are so vociferous and furious when it comes setting out what farmers must do and by what date, so incredibly deferential when it comes to the five or six retail corporations that account for the vast majority of our food retail sales?” asked Mr McCormack.
The ICMSA president said that the contrast between the way that farmers were regarded, regulated and scapegoated on broader environmental issues and the "in your own time there, lads" attitude that was extended to the supermarkets and their owner retail corporations was “jaw-dropping”.
“Farmers will watch this the announcement of this national deposit scheme very closely and there had better be the kind of mandatory measures, strict time-lines and regulatory burden on the supermarkets that we have to work within every single day. We are absolutely sick and tired of being the only group involved in Ireland’s transition to environmental sustainability that have a day-to-day schedule set out within which we – and we alone - operate. This is the Government’s chance to show that other sectors are going to be told to bear some of the load - and that had better be ‘told’ and not ‘asked’,” said Mr McCormack.
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