The 2011 Act sets a framework for significant increases to the landfill levy, in a move to further divert waste from landfill and incentivise the development of other types of waste facilities. The 2011 Act also introduces changes to allow greater flexibility to change the plastic bag levy.

Increases to the landfill levy on 1 September 2011 and more to come

On 1 September 2011, the landfill levy increased from €30 per tonne to €50 per tonne.

The 2011 Act and the Regulations provide a statutory framework for further changes to the landfill levy. The Minister has announced a series of increases in the landfill levy to rise to “€65 per tonne from July 2012 and €75 per tonne from July 2013.”

According to the Minister, Ireland sends over 60% of its municipal waste to landfill. This stands in contrast to our EU counterparts, Sweden and the Netherlands, who send 1% of municipal waste to landfill. The new framework to increase the landfill levy responds to what the Minister describes as an “urgent need to make a rapid and significant move away from landfill” as a step on “the road to the provision of more diverse waste treatment options”.

The 2011 Act sets the ceiling on the landfill levy at a maximum limit of €120 per tonne. The levy may be changed only once in any financial year and by not more than €50 on each occasion.

Waste-to-energy plants - changes

The Regulations introduce a new exemption from the landfill levy regarding the residue from waste to energy plants that goes to landfill. Residual waste accepted at landfill from a waste-to-energy plant, where the plant meets defined energy recovery targets, is exempt from the landfill levy.

In a departure from the original intention when the Bill was proposed by the previous Government, the legislature chose not to introduce a framework to set a “waste facility levy” of up to €120 per tonne for waste delivered to incineration and waste-to-energy facilities.

The plastic bag levy

In 2002, the Government introduced the plastic bag levy. Increases to date have seen the levy rise from 15c to 22c in 2007. The 2011 Act introduces a framework for the Minister to change the plastic bag levy. The plastic bag levy can be amended once in any financial year by the application of the consumer price index plus an additional 10% at the Minister’s discretion. The ceiling for the plastic bag levy is set at 70c.

The Environment Fund

Revenue generated from the landfill levy and the plastic bag levy is lodged to Ireland’s ‘Environment Fund’ used to support waste management and other environmental initiatives.

One to watch: the future of levies for incineration and waste to energy facilities

A waste facility levy for incineration and waste to energy facilities remains in the pipeline.  The Minister has stated in July 2011 that he will propose waste policy later this year that paves the way for levies on incineration.