Government to ban all single-use plastic purchases in schools

4 Jan 2019


The Government has enacted a sweeping measure that will ban all single-use plastic purchasing in schools by the end of March 2019.

Ireland may have earned the unfortunate title of a climate ‘laggard’ when compared with other European nations, but the Government has today (4 January) announced plans for how it aims to tackle the hot-button issue of single-use plastics.

Following a movement seen across the globe against the highly pollutive plastics, Minister for Communications, Climate Action and the Environment Richard Bruton, TD, announced that as of today, no Government department can purchase single-use plastic cups, cutlery and straws for office use.

Additionally, all departments must develop resource efficiency action plans by the end of June this year and any State procurement contracts – which total €12bn a year – for the purchase of plastics must take into account any potential environmental damage.

Yet perhaps the biggest impact to be felt across the country will be seen by the end of March 2019, by which time the Government will have banned the purchase of all single-use plastics in schools and State agencies. However, a caveat has been included for times when they are needed for public health or hygiene issues.

‘Ireland is way off course’

All of these public bodies must report to their respective minister by the end of November 2019 on the measures they have taken to minimise waste and maximise recycling.

Speaking this morning, Bruton said: “Ireland is way off course in our response to climate disruption. It’s practical steps like these that put us on a sustainable path, which is essential if we are to achieve our ambition to become a leader. I am committed to putting us on the right trajectory to meet our obligations.”

The decision comes as the Government sits down with EU member states, with draft legislation proposing new rules to target the 10 most prevalent single-use plastic products found on Europe’s beaches and seas, as well as lost and abandoned fishing gear, which together account for 70pc of all marine litter.

Last October, the EU laid out its plans, which included the ban of the worst-offending items – such as plates, cutlery, straws, balloon sticks and cotton buds – by 2021.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic