Circular Economy Food, Agriculture & Beverage

The circular economy is about reducing waste and keeping products and materials in use for as long as possible. As Ireland transitions to a circular economy, there is a steady increase in the variety of products being made subject to regulation. For example, in addition to existing take-back schemes for electrical and electronic items and batteries, the Government plans to prohibit single use plastic drinks containers that do not have tethered caps by July 2024.

From 1 February 2024, Ireland’s first ‘deposit return scheme’ (DRS) went live. This provides for the return of plastic (PET) bottles and aluminium and steel cans ranging in size from 150ml to 3 litres in exchange for a deposit paid when the item was purchased. Producers and retailers are required to register with Re-turn.

The Government is also proposing to introduce green public procurement rules for food and intends to introduce levies on cold drink containers. The construction industry will also be targeted to reduce the amount of waste it generates.

At European level, the EU is introducing a “digital passport” for batteries, a “right to repair” in respect of most product types, and is presently discussing proposals on how to tackle “greenwashing”.

Navigating these new, dynamic areas of law can be complex. Our team is skilled at helping clients understand their obligations and is experienced in providing effective advice to clients about requirements to amend their product life cycle.

Our team works extensively with investors, manufacterers, sellers and importers who want to understand the implications of current and upcoming circular economy legislation on their target markets and ESG objectives.