Campaigners Ditch Plastic At Dail As Committee Hears Expert Testimony On Waste Reduction Bill

Voice of Irish Concern for the Environment (VOICE), Friends of the Earth, representatives of Zero Waste Ireland and Uplift, along with the public, will bring their unwanted plastic single-use packaging to the Dail to express their desire to ‘ditch plastic’ and support the Green Party’s Waste Reduction bill under consideration in the Communication, Climate Action and Environment Committee.

Mindy O’Brien, Coordinator of VOICE explained, ‘We welcome the progression of this Bill as a good first start to address the plastic crisis. Every day in Ireland over 500,000 single use cups and 2.5 million bottles are being disposed of through landfill and incineration instead of being recycled. There is a better way through prevention, recycling and composting and we call on the government to move on progressive policy to address the environmental and economic costs associated with plastic pollution and to adopt incentives to change corporate and individual consumption patterns.’

According to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, 8 million tonnes of plastic leaks into the ocean each year, equivalent to one rubbish truck a minute dumping plastic into the marine environment.[1]  The European Union just yesterday released its Strategy on Plastics to tackle the amount of unrecyclable plastic introduced into the marketplace.  One of its objectives is to ensure that all plastic packaging on the EU market can be reused or recycled by 2030.  We hope that this will be an opportunity to make all plastic packaging toxic free and environmentally sound.  Policy must be adopted at a country level as we cannot rely on voluntary agreements by industry.

The Waste Reduction bill would ban plastic cups, plates, and cutlery and establish a deposit/refund scheme (DRS) for glass, plastic and aluminium drinks containers.  Such deposit schemes have been hugely successful in other countries and US States, increasing the collection of drinks containers up to 98%.  These containers are easily recyclable and are often lost from the recycling stream through littering or being put into the rubbish bin.  Establishing a DRS in Ireland has huge support as the Uplift campaign and Friends of the Earth have collected over 7,000 signatures supporting a domestic DRS.” stated Oisin Coghlan, Executive Director of Friends of the Earth.

Diane Forsythe, a member of Zero Waste Ireland group, stated: “I was inspired to start this petition because my husband is Danish and on holidays in Denmark it was obvious how simple and effective their deposit refund scheme is. There’s practically no roadside rubbish in Denmark and everyone actively picks up any container because they will get a financial reward! It’s worked across Europe for decades now and we’re long past time implementing this scheme in Ireland.”

Ms. Forsythe, along with representatives from Uplift, VOICE and Friends of the Earth, will present over 7,000 signatures of individuals supporting the establishment of a DRS to members of the Dail.

The Dail Committee is meeting at 1:30pm on Wednesday, January 17th to consider the Waste Reduction Bill where Mindy O’Brien will testify as an environmental advocate.  The Waste Reduction Bill, Bill No. 80 of 2017, was introduced by Deputy Eamon Ryan and Deputy Catherine Martin.

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