Govt Leading The Way In Reducing Single Plastics Use

Government departments, public bodies and schools will lead the way in the response to cutting down on single use plastics, with a number of measures, including no longer purchasing single-use plastic cups, cutlery and straws for use within their offices.

The Minister for Communications, Climate Action and the Environment, Minister Richard Bruton, is currently developing an all of government plan to make Ireland a leader in responding to climate change.

The Minister yesterday – Thursday 03 January – secured government approval to bring in a number of measures which will see government departments and agencies lead the way in the revolution that is needed.

Speaking at the Rediscovery Centre in Ballymun, Minister Bruton said: "The public service must be the first to show that it takes policies for sustainability seriously, if we are to persuade the rest of society to make the step changes which we need to make.

"Today the government has approved a plan, to stop purchasing single use plastic, to cut waste in food and paper, to improve efficiency in the use of energy and water and to reshape procurement to choose sustainable options. Every year the public service spends €12 billion in procuring goods, services and works. By adopting green procurement, not only will government lead by example, but also help create a new market for sustainable goods and services."

From today, Friday 04 January:

• No government department will purchase single-use plastic cups, cutlery and straws for use within their offices

• All government departments will develop resource efficiency action plans by the end of June this year. These plans will help staff make savings in energy and water use as well as preventing food waste and maximising recycling.

• The Department will work with the Office of Government Procurement to bring forward proposals on how national public procurement policy can take account more fully of environmental matters. This will ensure state contracts include the full life cycle cost of our purchases. These proposals are to be finalised by the end of March 2019.

In addition, all public bodies including state agencies and schools will not purchase single-use plastic beverage cups, cutlery and drinking straws after 31 March 2019, except where specific public health/hygiene or safety issues arise.

All public bodies are required to report to its respective Minister by end-November 2019 on the measures it is taking to minimise waste generation and maximise recycling.

Minister Bruton continued: "Ireland is way off course in our response to climate disruption. It practical steps like these that put us on a sustainable path which is essential if we are to achieve our ambition to become a leader. I am committed to putting us on the right trajectory to meet our obligations."

The Government is implementing these measures ahead of broader proposals relating to single-use plastic items being negotiated at EU level. Draft EU legislation proposes new rules targeting the 10 most prevalent single-use plastic products found on Europe's beaches and seas, as well as lost and abandoned fishing gear, which together account for 70% of all marine litter. The proposal includes a ban on certain single use plastic products such as plastic straws, cutlery, cotton buds and balloon sticks.


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