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Minister Bruton Announces Government will Lead the Way in Reducing Single Use Plastics

​​From today, no government department or agency will buy single-use plastic cups, cutlery or straws for use within their offices

Green procurement advanced

All government departments and agencies to develop resource efficiency plans


The Minister for Communications, Climate Action and the Environment, Minister Richard Bruton T.D. today (Friday the 4th of January) announced that government departments, public bodies,and schools will lead the way in the response to cutting down on single use plastics, with a number of measures, including no longer purchasing single-use plastic cups, cutlery and straws for use within their offices.

The Minister is currently developing an all of government plan to make Ireland a leader in responding to climate change. The Minister yesterday (Thursday the 3rd of January) secured government approval to bring in a number of measures which will see government departments and agencies lead the way in the revolution that is needed.

Speaking at the Rediscovery Centre in Ballymun, Minister Bruton will say, "The public service must be the first to show that it takes policies for sustainability seriously, if we are to persuade the rest of society to make the step changes which we need to make.

"Today the government has approved a plan, to stop purchasing single use plastic, to cut waste in food and paper, to improve efficiency in the use of energy and water and to reshape procurement to choose sustainable options. Every year the public service spends €12 billion in procuring goods, services and works. By adopting green procurement, not only will government lead by example, but also help create a new market for sustainable goods and services."

From today,

  • No government department will purchase single-use plastic cups, cutlery and straws for use within their offices
  • All government departments will develop resource efficiency action plans by the end of June this year.  These plans will help staff make savings in energy and water use as well as preventing food waste and maximising recycling.
  • The Department will work with the Office of Government Procurement to bring forward proposals on how national public procurement policy can take account more fully of environmental matters. This will ensure state contracts include the full life cycle cost of our purchases. These proposals are to be finalised by the end of March 2019.

In addition, all public bodies including state agencies and schools will not purchase single-use plastic beverage cups, cutlery and drinking straws after 31 March 2019, except where specific public health/hygiene or safety issues arise.

All public bodies are required to report to its respective Minister by end-November 2019 on the measures it is taking to minimise waste generation and maximise recycling.       

Minister Bruton said, "Ireland is way off course in our response to climate disruption. It 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 Government is implementing these measures ahead of broader proposals relating to single-use plastic items being negotiated at EU level.  Draft EU legislation proposes new rules targeting 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 70% of all marine litter. The proposal includes a ban on certain single use plastic products such as plastic straws, cutlery, cotton buds and balloon sticks.

Notes to Editor

Single Use Plastics

In January of 2018, the European Commission adopted the first-ever Europe-wide strategy on plastics. The strategy envisages that all plastic packaging on the EU market will be recyclable by 2030, the consumption of single-use plastics will be reduced and the intentional use of micro plastics will be restricted. This strategy will transform the way products are designed, produced, used, and recycled in the EU. One of the first key legislative proposals to emerge on foot of the EU Plastics Strategy is the "Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on the reduction of the impact of certain plastic products on the environment", which was published on 28 May 2018. This draft legislation proposes new EU-wide rules to target the 10 most prevalent single-use plastic (SUP) products found on Europe's beaches and seas. Ireland has supported the ambition of this proposal throughout all the negotiations.

More information can be found at

Resource Efficiency Action Plans These plans focus on how individual offices can make improvements in their use of heat, light, water and other resources used such as food, paper, inks etc. to save money and reduce environmental impacts.   It is recommended that a staff-led 'Green Team' approach is most successful in designing and rolling out the changes required to give effect to the Plan.  Expert resource efficiency assessors can provide start-up assistance in identifying opportunities for improvement in  waste production and management, waste prevention opportunities, energy bills and charges, opportunities for heat recovery, optimisation of equipment use, lighting efficiency, water efficiency as well as building engagement with management and staff.   The Department of Communications, Climate Action and the Environment and the EPA will be providing guidance and support to departments in this regard.

Green Public Procurement (GPP) ensures public money is invested in sustainable goods and services and true value for money is obtained. It has the potential to be a critical tool for delivering across a host of priority areas such as climate change, resource and energy efficiency, waste management, water and air quality, local and regional jobs. The integration of green public procurement principles into the economy can further enhance Ireland's reputation as an innovative, eco-efficient and forward-looking place to do business. Many public authorities have already made good progress in this regard as demonstrated by the examples of best practice outlined in the National Action Plan – 'Green Tenders'. Guidance on Green Procurement has been prepared to assist public bodies to better incorporate GPP into their purchasing decisions. The Department is also a partner in the Interreg Project, GPP4Growth which brings together partners from nine countries, to exchange experiences and best practice on the implementation of green public procurement. 

More information about GPP in Ireland can be found here and information about EU GPP is available here.

 

 

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