The Government is committed to leading the way in reducing all single-use plastics and is working at national and European level to tackle the problem. In this regard, the Government has agreed that Departments and bodies will no longer purchase single-use plastic cups, cutlery and straws. We have also strongly supported new EU legislation on single-use plastics, which will ban straws, cotton bud sticks made from plastic, plastic plates and cutlery, plastic coffee stirrers and plastic balloon holders. That is due to be transposed into legislation by 3 July 2021 at the latest. A clean oceans initiative has also been commenced and the Government is legislating to ban microbeads.
These measures are intended to bring a concentrated focus on the reduced prevalence of single-use plastics and on quality recycling throughout all Irish organisations, public or private. Many organisations are taking steps to improve their resource use and all public bodies will be submitting a report shortly on the progress that they have made as a result of the decision made last January. My Department provides direct funding for the local authority prevention network, managed by the Environmental Protection Agency, EPA. One of the initiatives funded involved approximately €150,000 being provided to 17 local authorities in 2018-19 to provide public drinking water fountains in public buildings, including schools and leisure centres, at events and on greenways to reduce single-use plastic consumption.
The local authority prevention network will shortly publish a handbook on providing public water stations, based on the experiences of local authorities to date. Further consideration of measures to tackle single-use plastics will be undertaken in the context of Ireland's waste action plan. A full public consultation on the development of the plan will be launched before the end of this year.