Online retailers must reduce the plastic packaging on their orders, a Fine Gael TD has said.
Deputy Richard Bruton said: “The Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in more online shopping than we have ever seen before.
“As well as the larger retailers, we have seen smaller shops and boutiques diversifying and creating very successful online businesses to reach an even wider customer base and keep their businesses afloat.
“As customers and retailers adjust to level 5 restrictions, we will see a further rise in these e-commerce trends.
“While we all appreciate this transition is very hard on businesses and thank them for their diversification, it is important to note that this essential shift in the way we shop comes with a price for the environment.
“Customers who usually carried their goods home from the shop or boutique in a paper bag now receive their items wrapped in multiple layers of plastic.
“This has no doubt seen a dramatic increase in the amount of single-use plastics in circulation since the pandemic began.
“While I appreciate that some online retailers use a plastic outer packaging for their orders due to its waterproof and durable nature, there is no excuse for additional plastic to be used to further wrap garments and items inside the package when a recyclable such as tissue paper can be used.
“The use of plastic bags in Ireland reduced by 90% after a levy was applied in 2002.
“It is now time to incentivise both retailers and consumers to choose a greener delivery option.
“I am proposing that we introduce a quality symbol for retailers who ensure the lowest possible amount of plastic is used in their online orders.
“This standard would be similar to the Guaranteed Irish symbol and would encourage consumers to opt for greener online shopping.
“A small levy similar to the plastic bag levy should also be introduced for retailers who do not comply with this incentive.
“This could either be payable by the retailer or absorbed by the consumer when they pay for delivery charges.
“Delivery companies and An Post would also have a role to play by ensuring greener packaging options are adequately facilitated.
“The Programme for Government commits to phasing out the use of single-use plastic. We must examine how to reduce its prevalence in the online retail space as a matter of urgency,” Deputy Bruton concluded.