This Government is committed to leading the way in reducing single use plastics and is working both at a national and European level to tackle the problem. The government has:
- Agreed that Government Departments and bodies will not purchase single-use plastic cups, cutlery and straws
- Strongly supported new EU legislation on Single Use Plastics (SUP), which will ban straws, cotton bud sticks made from plastic, plastic plates and cutlery, plastic coffee stirrers and plastic balloon holders
- Committed to a 90% plastic bottle collection target and a 55% plastic recycling target
- Commenced a clean oceans initiative to collect, reduce and reuse marine litter and clean up our marine environment
- Commissioned a review to establish the best way to reach a 90% collection target for beverage containers, after which the Minister will announce the necessary actions.
Ireland uses the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) model for dealing with waste packaging. Repak, the national producer responsibility scheme for packaging, is a not for profit organisation which charges fees to members based on both the amount and type of packaging they place on the Irish market, thus incentivising them to reduce the amount of packaging they generate. The fees are then used to subsidise the collection and recovery of waste packaging through registered recovery operators across Ireland.
The Waste Framework Directive was amended in 2018 and introduced a new requirement for EPR schemes to modulate the financial contributions paid by producers by 2023. The objective of this new provision is to provide an incentive to producers to design products that contribute to waste prevention and facilitate recycling by taking into account their durability, reparability, re-usability, recyclability and the presence of hazardous substances. EU guidance on modulated fees is expected later this year.
Repak is considering how to address this obligation as part of their Plastic Packaging Recycling Strategy 2018-2030 and is working with my Department to ensure modulated fees are brought in as quickly as practicable, to drive changes to ensure packaging is easily recyclable.
At EU level, the first-ever Europe-wide strategy on plastics has been adopted. The strategy envisages that all plastic packaging on the EU market will be recyclable by 2030 and the consumption of single-use plastics will be reduced. The strategy is underpinned by a proposed directive for the reduction of the impact of certain plastic products on the environment. This Directive, due to be finalised shortly, will enable me to introduce concrete measures to reduce, and in some cases, ban the use of single-use plastics.