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:
- Banned the purchase of single-use plastic cups, cutlery and straws across all government departments and bodies
- 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.
- Worked on legislation to prohibit the manufacturing or placing on the market of certain products containing plastic microbeads; this work is well advanced.
The government’s Climate Action Plan to tackle climate breakdown, which was published recently will step up ambition in this area further and commits to:
- Ensuring all plastic packaging is 100% recyclable by 2030
- Expanding the successful Producer Responsibility Schemes to other items.
- Improved labelling on goods - government will work with industry to improve labelling to avoid confusion or ambiguity on what can and cannot be recycled.
- Increased fees to industry for using difficult to recycle materials
The Plan also commits government to considering introducing levies on disposable items where sustainable alternatives are available. A Waste Characterisation report, with input from the EPA will be submitted to me by the end of the year. My Department is also considering what new environmental levies should be imposed, including a possible levy on beverage containers. I will consider environmental levy proposals once received in the coming weeks. I am keen to reduce reliance on single use materials and am keen to ensure that any measures that are introduced are effective at both changing consumer behaviour and helping Ireland to reach our overall goals of reducing non-recyclable waste.