At 11 am today – 15th June – the Green Party launched the Waste Reduction Bill 2017 at the gates of Leinster House. The Bill would introduce a deposit refund scheme for glass and plastic bottles and a complete ban on single use non-recyclable plastics, such as coffee cups and plastic cutlery.
Green Party leader, Eamon Ryan TD outlined the global context for this bill: “The issue of plastic pollution is a massive challenge. Every year, over 110 million tonnes of plastic is produced. Of this, up to 43% ends up in landfill.”He also referenced the worrying estimates that 8 million tonnes of plastic leak into oceans each year and that at the current rate, we are on route to having more plastic in the ocean than fish by 2050.
Green Party Deputy Leader and TD for Dublin Rathdown Catherine Martin said: “The purpose of our bill is quite simple – to reduce the amount of plastic consumed in Ireland every year, and encourage recycling”. She expressed confidence that all parties in the Dáil will support such a “common sense proposal.”
Of the 210,000 tonnes of plastic produced each year in Ireland only 40 per cent is recycled and at least 52.5 per cent goes straight to landfill.
Much of this plastic also ends up in the environment. In a report released last week, Coastwatch Ireland found that 80 per cent of surveyed coastal sites contained litter, with plastic bottles being the major type of litter.
The Green Party also quoted results from a recent survey by Coastwatch Ireland shows that 89% of people would support a deposit refund scheme.
Evidence indicates that the best way to tackle plastic pollution is to stop it entering the environment in the first place. Deposit refund schemes are a tried and tested approach that work well in a number of other countries.
The Environmental Pillar has long advocated for a drinks container deposit refund scheme and have just testified before the Joint Oireachtas Budget Committee asking for such a measure to be adopted.
Mindy O’Brien, of VOICE, which is a member organisation of the Environmental Pillar, said: “With the new government in place, and with Scotland taking similar steps, we call on Minister Naughten to join 23 other countries and support this initiative to combat our throw-away society and to promote the circular economy”.