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Minister Bruton to Tackle Fast Fashion, Cigarette Butts & Plastic in Radical Action on Waste ​

2 Jan 2020

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The Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Richard Bruton T.D. today (Monday the 30th of December) announced the key areas on which the government's radical new waste strategy will focus.

Over 200kg of waste packaging, 59kg of which is plastic, is generated per person every year in Ireland, above average among our EU neighbours. More than half of fast fashion is disposed of in less than a year. Food waste alone costs homeowners €700 a year and accounts for a loss of €1 billion to our enterprises.

Minister Bruton said,

"I am determined to address how we manage our waste as part of the Climate Action Plan. We must radically change our wasteful use of precious resources which damages our climate and our environment and compromises our future.  Key targets are plastic waste, food waste, single use habits (from fast fashion to plastic straws), poor waste separation and illegal dumping.

"We need to act now and we have identified 75 measures which can be quickly implemented. These include: enforcing existing rules, encouraging audits and waste reduction targets, higher fees for difficult to recycle packaging and bringing commercial vehicle tyres into the successful tyre recycling scheme.

"We may also introduce mandatory brown bin collections, ban bulky waste from landfill, place costs of cigarette butt clean up on the tobacco industry and expand the items allowed in the green bin. Sectoral initiatives will be promoted, particularly in the food sector.  We will ban single-use plastic plates, cutlery, straws, balloon sticks, cotton bud sticks, polystyrene cups and food containers and introduce fees on non-recyclable plastics, like on food packaging in supermarkets.  A major study of crime in the waste sector will also be undertaken"

The government's new waste strategy will also focus on the following key areas, which the government are seeking input on today:

  • Measures to tackle fast fashion
  • Better labelling for recyclable goods
  • Targets to ensure correct bins are used, providing clearer information on what goes into each bin
  • Measures to halve food waste
  • Ending the use of non-recyclable plastic
  • How to further crack down on illegal dumping
  • Incentivising the use of recycled materials in the construction industry
  • Working with other EU Member States to design the structure of an EU wide plastic packaging tax to encourage the further prevention of plastic packaging.
  • How we can raise awareness among individuals and businesses on how best to manage their waste. This will include consideration of making waste prevention/recycling part of the school curriculum

Minister Bruton said:

"A major focus will be on poor practices in business where 70% of material dumped could be recycled but  these sorts of measures will also play their part in the household sector where ambitious new targets are being set."

The Minister has today also announced the establishment of an Advisory Group, who will assist in the production of the new policy. The Group chaired by the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment and  comprised of representatives from environmental NGOs, the Industry, and the regulatory sector will meet for the first time in January.

Consultations  on a range of measures, administrative and legislative,  open today and the Department is seeking views until Friday the 21st of February. Interested parties can find further information here & here

These consultations will enable Ireland  develop a new waste policy / circular economy plan to meet the emerging challenges and build on the targets set out in the Climate Action Plan. The completed policy will also match the level of ambition in the Waste and Climate areas being shown across the EU. The European Commission recently (11 December 2019) launched a proposal for a European Green Deal, setting a roadmap for a climate neutral continent by 2050. The Green Deal encompasses a range of actions supporting circularity and sustainability. These actions will lead to new proposals for resource intensive sectors such as construction, textiles, electronics and plastics and will include provisions on environmentally aware product design, Green Public Procurement, and an EU model to standardise separate waste collection.

Ireland will play a supportive role in negotiations on the Green Deal, which will commence in 2020.

This Government is committed to leading the way in reducing single use plastics and is working both at a national and European level to tackle the problem. The government has:

  • Banned the purchase of single-use plastic cups, cutlery and straws across all government departments and bodies
  • Strongly supported new EU legislation on Single Use Plastics (SUP), which will ban straws, cotton bud sticks made from plastic, plastic plates and cutlery, plastic coffee stirrers and plastic balloon holders
  • Committed to a 90% plastic bottle separate collection target and a 55% plastic recycling target
  • Commenced a clean oceans initiative to collect, reduce and reuse marine litter and clean up our marine environment
  • Commissioned a review to establish the best way to reach a 90% separate collection target for beverage containers, after which the Minister will announce the necessary actions.