I propose to take Questions Nos. 504 and 509 together.
I announced in January that government departments, public bodies, and schools will lead the way in the response to cutting down on single use plastics, with a number of measures, including no longer purchasing single-use plastic cups, cutlery and straws for use within their offices.
Since 4th January 2019, no government department will purchase single-use plastic cups, cutlery and straws for use within their offices In addition, all public bodies including state agencies and schools will not purchase single-use plastic beverage cups, cutlery and drinking straws after 31 March 2019, except where specific public health/hygiene or safety issues arise.
In relation to the directive mentioned by the Deputy, Ireland did not table any amendments to the Directive. Indeed, our negotiating position throughout the process was to support a higher level of ambition.
This reflects Ireland's position as one of the leading countries in the EU for packaging recycling and recovery. The latest statistics for packaging recycling for 2016 published by the EPA show that Ireland has met and exceeded all EU targets for packaging recycling and recovery. In relation to plastic packaging specifically, Ireland has exceeded its recycling target by 60% - Ireland recycled 36% of its plastic packaging waste in 2016 against an EU target of 22.5%. The overall packaging recycling and recovery rate in Ireland has grown from a very low base to 88% in 2016.
Repak is approved under licence by the Minister for Communications, Climate Action & Environment to operate as a compliance scheme for packaging recovery, and have extensive expertise in this area. It is normal practice to seek the views of experts when considering a national response to a draft proposal.