CORK County Council has ruled out providing any machines which pay out money vouchers when plastic bottles are deposited in them.
The machines hit the headlines last month after the Tidy Towns committee in Monaghan town installed one of the machines, in an effort to cut back on plastic litter in the town.
The machine, at Market Square Shopping Centre, gives customers a 10c voucher in return for depositing a plastic bottle. The voucher can then be redeemed at a SuperValu store in the shopping centre.
But Cork County Council has ruled out a similar initiative, saying such machines should be financed by commercial interests, and not a local authority.
A recent Council meeting was told that Cork would welcome any commercial or community initiative, but could not commit any funding for the machines.
Cllr Audrey Buckley (FF) raised the motion calling for the Council to set up a fund for the so-called ‘reverse vending machines’ which would help with the growing problem of plastic waste.
‘I would love to see a machine here in the foyer of Cork County Hall and it would be great for the Council to be pro-active and take the initiative,’ said Cllr Buckley.
She said that she has been contacted by numerous people in her area about this and she wanted to float the idea.
Cllr Danny Collins (Ind) lent his support to the motion and highlighted the recent success of the machine installed in Monaghan.
‘It’s a great idea and you will get children and teenagers collecting bottles and that will help with cleaning up the environment. Years ago you were able to take your bottles back to the bar,’ said Cllr Collins.
East-Cork based Cllr James O’Connor (FF) said his school had such a machine and said that for coastal towns like Youghal it was imperative that these are rolled out.
His colleague, former county mayor Cllr Seamus McGrath said he wants the issue further discussed and said it would be nice to see Cork County Council take the lead.
‘Other countries do it very well and collecting waste for revenue is good. About 30 years ago we had refund schemes and we should go back to them,’ said Cllr McGrath.
Cllr Danielle Twomey (SF) agreed, saying it would be good for the Council to push the boundaries and be a leader in this field.
‘As a country we are so far behind. In Norway they have a 97% recycling rate,’ she said.
Cllr Gearóid Murphy (FF) said it’s ‘a no-brainer’ and said the cost of the scheme would pay for itself in the long run. He said a national approach would be a good idea and that the Council should write to the Minister to get support for the scheme.
Cllr Marcia D’Alton (Ind) supported the concept of a deposit fund scheme, but didn’t think it was the Council’s role.
Cllr John O’Sullivan (FG) said the motion had a good aspect to it, but didn’t feel the Council should fund it and agreed that a national scheme should be put in place.
County mayor Cllr Christopher O’Sullivan (FF) said that plastic pollution ‘is an absolute scourge and blight on our oceans and environment.
‘I have seen it first hand from being on whale watching tours where a net is kept on-board to pick up plastic and bottles and not fish,’ said Cllr O’Sullivan.
He agreed that they should write to the Minister for Environment about a national scheme and said it should be further discussed at the Council’s environmental special purpose committee.
But chief executive Tim Lucey shot down the idea and said he didn’t think the Council should be putting taxpayers’ money into it.
‘It should be funded by the commercial sector, but it does need serious debate, which would be beneficial,’ Mr Lucey added.