The policy of my Department is, in accordance with best practice and the principles of sustainability, to reduce, reuse and recycle. Further, as the Deputy may be aware, a decision of Government in January 2019 instructed Government Departments to avoid the direct or indirect purchase of single-use plastic beverage cups, cutlery or drinking straws.
Accordingly, as a matter of Department policy, plastic cups are no longer supplied. Disposable cups are not generally provided at staff water dispensers and reusable cups are available. Where dispensers are made available for use by visitors or members of the public and it is not practical to provide reusable cups, the Department provides fully compostable drinking cups.
Similarly, where catering is supplied by outside providers, those providers are informed that single-use plastics should not be used.
Bottled water is provided only in exceptional circumstances and where alternatives are not available. This may arise, for example, when large numbers are attending an event, or in the case of outdoor events.
The spend on disposable cups to date in 2019 is €678. The spend on bottled water in the same period is €4,814.