Government to phase out single-use plastics

The EU is moving to ban single-use plastic in an effort to cut marine pollution.

Single-use plastics are to be phased out across all government departments and agencies before wider laws are introduced to completely ban throwaway products, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said.

Mr Varadkar is moving to eradicate use of disposable cups, plates, cutlery, and other single-use items in a bid to cut down on our waste and prevent marine pollution.

The commitment came after the European Parliament and European Council moved to ban throwaway plastic items such as cotton buds, drink stirrers, and balloon sticks.

Asked if he would like to see an end to single-use plastics, Mr Varadkar said: “That’s the plan, I am not sure if we have been fully effective yet in the Department of An Taoiseach in removing them but we are going to get there. And the plan is to do that across all government departments and then different agencies as well.

“We also plan to legislate in this area as well.”

The Government now has an obligation to introduce such measures after the EU produced an agreed document on tackling single-use plastics in December.

Once they are formally approved, EU states will have two years to implement the measures banning single-use plastic which aim to cut marine pollution.

The EU document will also ban oxobiodegradable plastics, which contain additives that promote fragmentation, essentially turning them into microplastics.

Plastic-bottle manufacturers will be obliged to use 30% recycled plastic by 2030.

Ireland is a top plastic waste offender in the EU, producing 61kg of plastic per person per year.

Mr Varadkar defended our record on pollution, waste, and the environment.

“Ireland, on the environment does very well.

“In some areas, we don’t get as much credit for it as we should. We are a leader when it comes to recycling and we are a leader when it comes to renewable energy.

“Obviously, climate emissions and greenhouse-gas areas is an area where we laggard and are falling way behind.”

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