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Mitchel Mc Laughlin calls for Environmental Levy on alcohol containers

22 March, 2011

Sinn Féin Economy Spokesperson, Mitchel Mc Laughlin MLA (South Antrim) has called for the introduction of a refundable levy on all alcohol containers.

Mitchel Mc Laughlin said:

“The increase in off-premises drinking has created many social and environmental problems. While there are many worthwhile statutory and voluntary bodies dedicated to addressing the social problems created by alcohol misuse, local authorities seem powerless to address the environmental problems caused by outdoor drinking.

“Our parks and streets are strewn with the debris of this behaviour on a daily basis but particularly at weekends. Cans, bottles and blue bags litter every green area available to those, many of them underage, who indulge in this activity.

“Not only is it unsightly but it puts an extra burden on local Councils and ratepayers who have to pay to clean up the mess. It also creates an unwelcoming atmosphere in our public parks for family enjoyment. This situation cannot be allowed to continue unabated.

“I suggest that one way of addressing the negative social and other aspects of this problem would be to introduce a refundable environmental levy on all alcohol containers. Such schemes have been introduced in other jurisdictions with great success. A deposit would be charged on all cans and glass containers, which would be refunded on return to the off-license or retailer. Therefore not only would it contribute to cleaning up our parks and streets it would create employment and entrepreneurial opportunity. In conjunction with proposed restrictions on cut-price drinks promotions it would also help combat the growing problem with underage drinking.

“I realise that local authorities do not have the power to introduce such a levy and legislation would be required. It is obviously an issue that the Assembly in the new mandate should address as a matter of urgency.”

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