Ban the widespread usage of disposable, non-compostable plastics in Ireland

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Petition to urge the Irish government to respect our country’s environment by imposing restrictions, leading to an eventual ban on the sale and use of disposable, non-compostable materials as packaging, as ingredients in cosmetics and hygiene products, and for use in the service industry.

Introduction:

From plastic packaging in grocery stores, to disposable cups at cafes and concert venues, and the bags used to clean up after our pets, we, as a nation, have become increasingly dependent on single-use, non-compostable products in recent years. These items account for the majority of the waste produced in our daily lives, and while recycling facilities exist for many of these materials, there are also many that can not be recycled and make their way into our country’s eco-systems and waterways.

Recent studies have shown that billions of people worldwide are now drinking tap water containing plastic, with a study of more than a dozen nations revealing that 83% of samples were contaminated with plastic micro-fibres.

At the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris (COP21), our world leaders agreed that they would discuss ways to address the rising temperature of our planet. Plastic production from fossil fuels is a major contributor to global warming that needs to be addressed by our government.

In 2014 the city of San Francisco, CA banned the sale of plastic water bottles.  In 2016 the nation of France issued a ban on plastic cups, plates and cutlery in the service industry.  It's now time for Ireland to take action.

The Minister's line on the subject is that Ireland is currently meeting the European Union's packaging regulations.  These regulations state that only "60% of packaging waste must be recovered and 55% must be recycled."  This is not enough!  What happens to the other 45%?

The time for talk and idle promises is over!!!  Ask our Minister for Climate Action and the Environment Mr. Denis Naughten to tackle this problem by implementing a strategy to phase out the use of wasteful non-compostable, single-use plastics.

The Problem:

  • An average of 8 million tonnes of plastic are dumped into the world’s oceans every year.
  • Non-recyclable plastics damage water systems and deplete marine life and fish stock.
  • Plastic production from fossil fuels is a major contributor to global warming.
  • Many plastics are not recyclable and take 500-1000 years to bio-degrade.
  • Current recycling and incinerator plants only add to the environmental problem.
  • On a global level there are currently floating islands of rubbish in the Earth’s oceans as large as twice the landmass of France.

Possible Solutions:

  • There are numerous compostable options available to replace current plastics.
  • Reusable cups, plates, cutlery for all service industries.
  • Taxation on plastics currently being used to urge change.
  • Reusable cloth bags available at supermarkets.
  • Packaging restrictions on all major grocery chains.
  • Ban on hygiene and cosmetic products that include harmful microbeads.
  • New jobs to be created to train and employ Environmental Officers to aid transition to zero-waste.
  • Greater education and public information about our recycling system.


Why is plastic such a big problem?

Consider a plastic water bottle that is widely believed to be a recyclable item. In reality the term down-cycling is more appropriate as the bottle is merely reduced to a lower grade plastic and used other items such as garden furniture, carpeting, clothing, etc. These lower grade materials can seldom be recycled further, and ultimately become non-biodegradable waste for our country’s landfills and incinerators.

Furthermore, many items popularly thought of as recyclable are in fact non-recyclable. Items such as the plastic film covering our groceries, mixed material “card” (plastic.paper mixture), coffee packaging and cups, crisp and confectionary wrapping, etc. These items can not be recycled in the majority of our plants and as such contribute greatly to environmental pollution.

Plastics are now also widely used in cosmetics and hygiene products, including the presence of “microbeads” in many toothpastes and exfoliating scrubs. As the Minister for Climate Action and the Environment Mr. Denis Naughten recently noted, “A single shower can lead to 100,000 micro beads going into our waterways.” These beads clog and pollute our waterways and are ingested by marine life, leading to a depletion of fish stock in our waters.

Steps to a plastic free future:

In 2002 our government introduced a levy on disposable plastic shopping bags - a very progressive move at the time in comparison with most other EU countries. In 2014 the city of San Francisco, California implemented a ban on plastic water bottles being sold in the city. Most recently, as part of their Energy Transition to Green Growth, the nation of France took a bold step beyond that and issued a new law that would place a ban on the use of plastic cups, plates and cutlery in cafes and restaurants, with only biodegradable materials to be used by 2020.

Ask the Irish government to take a pioneering leap further and impose a ban on the widespread use of plastics for food and grocery packaging by the companies that so recklessly pedal their products on our green isle. These companies should be required to care for our environment by complying with new packaging laws in order to be allowed to trade in Ireland.

This move could also lead to new jobs being created, in training and employing environmental officers that would aid businesses in making the transition towards a zero waste policy, by introducing greener practices in the workplace.

In short:

It is an almost impossible task for Irish citizens to combat this ubiquitous problem on their own individual terms. The responsibility here rests with our government to face up to this challenge and to tackle it head on with courage and determination.

This petition respectfully urges the Minister for Climate Action and the Environment Mr. Denis Naughten, an Taoiseach Enda Kenny, and the Irish government to respect our country’s environment by imposing restrictions, leading to an eventual ban on the sale and use of disposable, non-compostable materials as packaging, as ingredients in cosmetics and hygiene products, and for use in the service industry.

Further reading:

Problems with Plastic

Defining Compostable, Biodegradable, Bio-Based

Ways to avoid using plastic at home and in the workplace

22 facts about plastic pollution and 10 things we can do about it

National Geographic - Oceanic Debris

30 Days without plastic - see Ellie O'Byrne's blog



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