DAERA is running a public consultation on the reduction of Single-Use Plastic (SUP) beverage cups and food containers until 17th December. 

In terms of products in scope, there is a list of cups and food containers outlined in the Scoping Document. 

  • Beverage cups are understood as cups for beverages, including their covers and lids, including take-away coffee cups and lids, or milkshake cups and covers,
  • Food containers are understood as receptacles such as boxes, with or without a cover, used to contain food which: (a) is intended for immediate consumption, either on-the-spot or take-away, (b) is typically consumed from the receptacle, and (c) is ready to be consumed without any further preparation, such as cooking, boiling or heating, including food containers used for fast food or other meal ready for immediate consumption, except beverage containers, plates and packets and wrappers containing food.

The food containers have then been divided into two scopes:

    • Scope 1 includes food containers that are filled at the point of sale (e.g. plastic trays for chips, plastic boxes used at salad bars). Consumers would have a choice here to use a SUP food container or use an alternative.
    • Scope 2 includes pre-filled SUP food containers, used for pre-packaged, prepared foods in shops (e.g. a pre-packaged sandwich, salad bowl or prepared fruit box). Consumers would therefore not have an alternative option when purchasing their food.

It is proposed that only Scope 1 food containers should be included within the ambit of the policies at the moment. The rationale for this is that in the case of Scope 2 food containers (a) the consumer has no opportunity to choose to have the food put into a multi-use container and thereby avoid the impact of the policy, and (b) SUNP alternatives are not readily available to producers/retailers in all cases.

The proposed policy options for both SUP beverage cups and food containers:

  • A ban on their use;
  • A levy of 25p on each cup and 50p on each food container;
  • A voluntary scheme or schemes implemented by businesses that make use of SUP cups or food containers, which may comprise a range of charges for cups/food containers, discounts for MU cups/food containers and communication efforts. This is modelled as having the same effect as a 10p levy for a beverage cup and 25p for a food container.

NB: The proceeds of any levy will be collected and processed by DAERA and used to both promote and sustain the wider NI environmental sector. The levy will be reinvested to support a broad range of local and countrywide environmental projects, supporting small, medium, and large projects funded through the NI Environment Fund, which enables not for profit organisations and councils to deliver key environmental interventions.

BRC/NIRC members are invited to share their views on the proposals by 10th December, get in touch with Nadiya or Aodhan