Belfast Telegraph

Single-use plastics banned in Irish government offices

Richard Bruton announced on Friday that government departments and public bodies will lead the way in tackling the issue.

The Irish government will no longer allow single-use plastics to be used in their offices.

The Minister for Communications, Climate Action and the Environment, Richard Bruton announced on Friday that government departments and public bodies will “lead the way” in tackling the issue of plastic pollution.

A number of measures have been announced, including no longer purchasing single-use plastic cups, cutlery and straws for use in government offices.

“If we’re to change and meet our goals head on, government must show that we take that seriously,” Mr Bruton said.

“We banned single-use plastics, that will come in straight away for government departments, the sort of objects that end up polluting our rivers and seas, around 350,000 tonnes of plastic are getting into our oceans, this is something we need to stop and lead by example.

“The second area is public procurement, the state every year spends 12m euro on public procurement, we can make a real impact on the sustainability of public service in the long term by choosing the green option.

“That way we create space for enterprises to grow, becoming more sustainable offers opportunity for the long term for enterprise as well as for society.”

Part of the initiative will also see every public body enact a sustainability plan by June this year, putting in place processes for recycling and managing energy and water.

For the government’s political opponents, however, the move is too little, too late.

Senator Grace O’Sullivan, the Green Party’s Waterford-based MEP candidate for Ireland South, said: “In so many ways this government initiative is long overdue.

“Of course any movement in the right direction is welcome but this government level ban on single-use plastics is the lowest of the low hanging fruit.

“To claim this an example of leadership is, by any standards, wrong.

“When it comes to green procurement the EU advice on this was published over a decade ago, their own guidelines are four years old and when it comes to resource efficiency plans many, many Irish businesses have been doing this for well over 10 years.”

The initiative comes just months after a report stated that Ireland remains one of the only European Union countries with greenhouse gas emissions rising rather than declining.

On the current trajectory, Ireland will also miss the proposed, 2030 EU decarbonisation targets.

This year’s budget did not include an increase in Ireland’s carbon tax, but the Taoiseach has previously alluded that it may be in place in the 2020 budget.

Mr Bruton added he would like to see an “all-party” agreement for the expansion of Ireland’s carbon tax.

The taxing of pollution output in the burning of fossil fuels like oil, gas and peat currently sits at 20 euro per tonne.

“The government have clearly indicated that we believe we should have a trajectory for carbon price, we’ll have to decide whether we follow the trajectory set up by the climate advisory group, but it’s important people don’t see this as a money-grab by the state,” he said.

“Whatever we raise in the carbon tax we will recycle back, whether it be an individual dividend like a cheque in the post, or the tax credit system, that’s a choice we will have to make.

“We need to try and achieve a political consensus on this, it’s important the entire community sees this is a shared responsibility.”

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