Ireland needs to increase its plastic recycling by 80% to reach EU targets set for 2030, according to Repak

From Friday, 4 January, single-use plastics will no longer be bought for use in government departments, public bodies and schools in Ireland, according to Richard Bruton, the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and the Environment.

This includes disposable plastic products such as cups, cutlery and straws.

Minister Bruton 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.

He then took to Twitter to share the news, announcing that "The govt must be the first to show that it takes policies for sustainability seriously, if we are to persuade the rest of society to make changes".

This comes as the Department of Communications, Climate Action and the Environment is currently developing a government-wide plan to make Ireland a leader in responding to climate change.

Back in 2009, Ireland was given a target to, by 2020, reduce emissions of greenhouse gases to 20% below what they were in 2005.

The State has consistently lagged behind in reaching these goals and is on target to have reduced its emissions by less than 1% come 2020.

The EU’s targets for 2030 include a 40% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. Climate and energy experts estimate Ireland will face EU fines running to hundreds of millions of euro for failing to reach the targets, but the Government insists the penalties will not be this large.

In January of 2018, the European Commission adopted the first-ever Europe-wide strategy on plastics.

The strategy envisages that all plastic packaging on the EU market will be recyclable by 2030, the consumption of single-use plastics will be reduced and the intentional use of micro-plastics will be restricted.

"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," Bruton said while at speaking at the Rediscovery Centre in Ballymun.

"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."

This means, that from Friday, 3 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.

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