Minister Richard Bruton, Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment

We NEED to reduce our plastic waste. According to the UN, 8 million tonnes of plastic leak into oceans each year. This is equivalent to dumping a truck of plastic into the sea every minute. Up to 99% of seabirds and 73% of Irish deep sea fish have ingested plastic! You can see the build up of plastic everywhere, especially on our beaches, and it's predicted that by 2050 there will more plastic in the ocean than fish!

There are ways of tackling this waste. We can keep cleaning it up, and individually we can reduce our plastic usage, but one of the most effective ways to reduce plastic waste is by taking political action.

Our Waste Reduction Bill seeks to introduce a deposit refund scheme on drinks containers; a ban on single-use plastics like disposable plastic cups and cutlery; and a levy on non-compostable take-away coffee cups to incentivise the use of compostable alternatives. If passed, we predict this would have a massive impact on the amount of plastic waste produced in Ireland.

However, having first been introduced back in July of 2017, then re-proposed in October of 2018, our Waste Reduction Bill continues to be stalled by the government. We want to let the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and the Environment, Richard Bruton, know that the time for excuses is over, and the time for action is NOW. We want this bill passed!

Please join the campaign by adding your name to the letter below and sharing the action. Together we CAN turn the tide on plastic pollution.

Thank you!

(PS - Interested in learning more about The Green Party's other campaigns? Click here and find out how to get involved: https://www.greenparty.ie/get-involved/)

Petition by

To: Minister Richard Bruton, Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment
From: [Your Name]

Dear Minister Bruton,

We, the undersigned, ask that you fully support and pass the Waste Reduction Bill which was presented to the House in October 2018 by the Green Party and is now blocked from being heard at Committee Stage. It is our firm belief that this long overdue piece of legislation will go a long way towards reducing the amount of plastic and other waste material that litters our countryside, waterways, beaches, and streets. A simple stroll along a beach makes it clear that our current system is not working. The sheer volume of plastic bottles, aluminium cans, disposable coffee cups, and other extraneous plastic items on display highlights the huge leaks that exist in a waste management system that fails to account for our on-the-go society.

The Waste Reduction Bill will do three things:

1. Establish a deposit and return scheme for closed drinks containers, plastic, aluminium or glass, and require those who produce or import such containers to cover the costs of operating the scheme in line with the established practice of producer responsibility.

2. Ban single use, non-compostable plastic items such as plastic cups, cutlery, straws, stirrers and other tableware, with appropriate exemptions for medical and other essential uses.

3. Incentivise the use of compostable or reuseable coffee cups by imposing a two-tier levy on disposable cups for beverages - 15c for noncompostable cups and 5c for compostable cups. The proceeds of this levy would fund the development of
infrastructure for effective disposal of compostable coffee cups and other
compostable materials.

Minister, Ireland is the top producer of plastic waste in Europe. In 2015, we generated an estimated total of 282,148 tonnes of plastic packaging waste – the equivalent of nearly 2,000 water bottles or 5,550 disposal coffee cups for every person in Ireland. The most recent EPA statistics show that only 34% of this plastic packaging gets recycled, and according to the National Waste Report 2012, over a quarter of it goes straight to landfill.

In 2008, we generated around 70,000 tonnes in PET bottles alone (recyclable polyethylene terephthalate). According to the EPA only 39% of these were collected for recycling/recovery, leaving over 27,000 tonnes of PET bottles lost from the recycling stream.

Much of this plastic waste ends up being incinerated at facilities such as Poolbeg and Duleek. One unintended consequence of this is that it inadvertently incentivises waste production by creating a demand for more waste to burn, rather than recycle. This approach is entirely at odds with the EU’s goal of fostering a circular economy.

A deposit and refund scheme for all beverage containers would completely disincentivise littering by offering a small financial reward for every bottle returned. Such a scheme would also have strong backing from the public. An opinion poll carried out by Coastwatch Ireland of 1,426 adults and children over the age of 10 found that 89% were positive about such a proposal, with just 6% against and 5% giving it “conditional approval”. Over-40s said they had “fond memories” of similar schemes that were implemented during their childhood, and incentives were the first choice as a measure to reduce drinks-container litter, with 50% support, followed by stricter law-enforcement (35%), and more clean-ups (21%).
In countries where a deposit system has been implemented, results have been positive with return rates reaching 80-90%. In the Netherlands a 25c deposit on all PET bottles has resulted in a 95% return rate; In Sweden they have an 84% return rate in a similar scheme; while Finland boasts a 92% return rate for PET bottles as a result of their deposit and refund system.

Additional benefits would include the creation of between 3,000 and 4,300 full-time jobs in the implementation of the deposit and refund system itself; the creation of additional downstream jobs; a reduction in the amount of expenditure required for litter control; and greater compliance with packaging and landfill directives. Unclaimed deposits could also be used to benefit other environmental projects (as is the case in places like Michigan).

France, South Korea, and San Francisco have already banned disposable, non-compostable single-use products. Ireland led the way with the plastic bag levy, helping to remove unsightly plastic bags from our countryside with almost immediate effect. A ban on other problematic plastics should be the next step towards reducing the levels of plastic in our natural environment.

As Minister for Communications, Climate Action, and Environment, we urge you to ensure that a money message is approved as swiftly as possible for this essential piece of waste legislation to restore the quality of our natural environment and to eliminate the unsightly litter we currently experience. We are happy to provide you with further information and research and stand ready to work with you on this.