I propose to take Questions Nos. 21 and 52 together.
On 3 January, the Government decided that Government Departments would no longer purchase, directly or indirectly, single use plastic beverage cups, cutlery or straws. From 1 March 2019, this policy will also apply to all public bodies.
The Government Decision also requires Departments to publish Resource Efficiency Action Plans to improve how public bodies manage water, energy and material resources. Each public body must report to its respective Minister by end-November on the measures it is taking. My department is currently rolling out supports for public bodies to ensure their compliance with the Government Decision.
The decision on single use plastic items pre-empts a more wide-ranging EU legislative proposal, which is expected to be agreed shortly. The draft EU Directive proposes to target the 10 most prevalent single use plastic items found in Europe's marine environment, as well as lost and abandoned fishing gear. The proposed Directive includes:
- banning certain single use plastic products;
- introducing national consumption reduction targets for other single use plastics; and,
- obliging single use plastic producers to fund waste management and litter clean ups.
Increasing public awareness plays a major role in reducing use of single use plastics and plastics generally. With support from my Department, the Regional Waste Management Offices have designed the website www.mywaste.ie to provide consumers with a single information resource on managing household waste with particular focus on the importance of waste prevention and recycling.
My Department is also working closely with Repak on this issue. Repak members can sign up to a pledge to reduce plastic packaging waste by:
- minimising avoidable single use packaging and promoting reuse where possible; and
- supporting plastic recycling targets of 50% of all plastic packaging by 2025 and 55% of all plastic packaging by 2030.