I propose to take Questions Nos. 30 and 46 together.
Increasing the level of plastic recycling and ultimately eliminating the use of non-recyclable plastics is a priority for me.
I recently secured Government approval to prohibit Government Departments and State Agencies from purchasing non-recyclable single use plastic cups and cutlery in offices. This is an initial step. To that end, I am working on the implementation of the European Strategy for Plastics in the Circular Economy, which was published in January 2018 by the European Commission. This strategy focuses on plastic production and use and sets a goal of ensuring all plastic placed on the EU market will be recyclable by 2030.
One of the first key legislative proposals to emerge on foot of the EU Plastics Strategy is the “Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on the reduction of the impact of certain plastic products on the environment”. The proposed Directive was published by the European Commission on 28 May 2018. This draft legislation proposes new EU-wide rules to target the 10 most prevalent single-use plastic products found on Europe's beaches and seas, as well as lost and abandoned fishing gear.
The proposed Directive includes:
- bans on certain single-use plastic products;
- obligations on Member States to reduce the use of certain single-use plastics and for the collection of others; and
- obligations on producers of single-use plastic items to cover the costs of waste management and clean up through the establishment of extended producer responsibility schemes.
Ireland has worked closely with other Member States and the EU Commission in progressing this Directive. I expect it to be finalised shortly and I am committed to transposing it into Irish law at the earliest possible date.