Watch: Eamon Ryan says 'we are drowning in plastic' as he unpacks bag of rubbish in Dáil

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said he would be open to environmental measures including giving people money back for returning used plastic bottles, writes Elaine Loughlin, Political Reporter.

Green party leader Eamon Ryan has called on the Government to do more to protect the environment including banning plastic coffee cups.

It comes as the Government presses ahead with the controversial introduction of a pay-by-weight system for refuse.

Mr Varadkar told the Dáil this afternoon that he wants to make it "easier for people to do the right thing or do the right choices" when it comes to protecting the environment and dealing with waste.

Mr Ryan caused disruption in the Dáil when he produced a number of items including an empty bottle of water, a plastic sandwich container, a used coffee cup and some plastic food packaging.

"We are drowning in plastic," Mr Ryan said after being cautioned by the Leas Ceann Comhairle for bringing the items into the chamber.

Mr Ryan said that 150 million tonnes of plastic is now in our seas and we are adding the equivalent of a dump truck a minute to this.

He suggested that a deposit scheme on plastic bottles be introduced which would see around 10c back on every bottle that is returned for recycling.

He said that in countries where such systems have been introduced recycling has gone up by 90%.

Mr Ryan also pointed to take-away coffee cups, which he said France are banning by 2020.

The Taoiseach said that Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Denis Naughten was working on a number of measures including placing large-scale recycling bins outside supermarkets, to allow people dispose of excess packing.

He said this would make supermarkets and manufacturers "think twice" if the packaging goes straight back to them without even reaching a person's home.

Mr Varadkar added that he is open to any idea that will reduce waste.

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