Ireland’s tobacco firms told to pay towards street cleaning

9th of January 2023
Ireland’s tobacco firms told to pay towards street cleaning

Tobacco companies in Ireland will now have to pay part of the country's multi-million euro street cleaning bill under new government legislation.

Cigarette butts account for half of the nation's street refuse and are "the biggest litter scourge", according to the National Litter Pollution Monitoring System.

A total of €85 million was spent by local authorities on street cleaning in 2022 including €36 million in Dublin alone. Since the start of the new year, tobacco companies have become liable for part of the clean-up costs.

"It forces companies to rethink what they're putting on the market and the costs involved," said Ireland's senior environment official in circular economy materials management Bernie Kiely.

"What you are doing is putting that whole-of-life cost back on the producers who put it on the market in the first place."

The levy is part of legislative changes imposed by Ireland's environment ministry in July 2021 in a bid to comply with the European Union's single-use plastic directive. This bans the use of plastic straws, cutlery and other disposable items.

Producers become responsible for the entire life cycle of products under the legislation changes including end-of-use costs. Tobacco companies will initially become liable because cigarette filters are made largely of plastics, but the legislation will later focus on fishing gear, balloons and wet wipes under extended schemes due to be established by all European Union member states.

The full size of the bill to tobacco companies will be calculated once data has been collected on the contribution made by cigarette butts to the litter toll during 2023.



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