Environment Minister Edwin Poots has revealed over four million single-use plastic (SUP) items are thrown away every week in Northern Ireland - with the majority ending up in landfill sites or the sea.
Breaking down the figures, Mr Poots said over 1.3m SUP cups and 3m SUP food containers are dumped.
In response to the shocking statistics, Mr Poots urged the public to respond to the SUP drinks and food packaging consultation, which ends on Friday.
“Each year, we throw away 70 million SUP drinks cups and 150 million SUP food containers – that’s over 220 million items ending up mostly in landfill or in our oceans,” stated Mr Poots.
“These items can take decades to biodegrade at best, and at worst, some can take centuries.
“We must take action to stop this pollution and to find better alternatives that our good for our environment.”
The SUP consultation was launched in October, but Mr Poots extended it for another four weeks to ensure as many people as possible share their feedback and opinions.
“There is growing concern about the devastating impact of this plastic pollution in the long term and its impacts upon climate change and plastic pollution, in particular into the marine environment,” continued Mr Poots. “I want you to join our fight against this surge of pollution.
“There’s still time to respond to the proposals, so I would encourage everyone who cares about our environment and plastic pollution to take few minutes this week and get your response in.
“You can respond at www.daera-ni.gov.uk/consultations/consultation-reduction-single-use-plastic-beverage-cups-and-food-containers”