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Single-use plastics ban Bill aims to put biodegradable packaging on supermarket shelves

This Bill would leapfrog over the government’s strategy, which Fianna Fáil has said is slow to materialise.

Fianna Fáil's Bill will be debated
Fianna Fáil's Bill will be debated
Image: Shutterstock/Africa Studio

A PROPOSED NEW law which aims to ban certain types of single-use plastics will be debated in the Dáil next week. 

Fianna Fáil Senator and by-election candidate, Lorraine Clifford-Lee has said that the Harmful Plastics Prohibition Bill will seek to tackle plastic pollution and litter, which is plaguing the Irish environment.

The Bill aims to prohibit the sale of consumer goods packaging containing harmful plastics, to prohibit the sale of consumer products containing microbeads, and to promote the use of biodegradable materials in the packaging of consumer products.

It would also give the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the power to make certain regulations banning certain plastics and to permit the Environmental Protection Agency to prepare programmes for monitoring the use of harmful plastics in the manufacture, distribution and sale of consumer products in Ireland. 

Government action

During the summer, the Cabinet agreed to publish new laws that will outlaw the sale, manufacture, import and export of products containing plastic microbeads.

Ministers agreed in July last year to ban microbeads, but progress on constructing legislation has been slow.

Microbeads are mostly used in some soaps, shower gels and facial scrubs to exfoliate skin, although they can be found in toothpaste and abrasive cleaners.

“The government has failed to follow suit with their own Microbeads Bill which is currently stuck at Second Stage. The government Bill deals only with primary microplastics  microbeads) and does not provide for the considerable volume of other plastics that are polluting our shared environment,” said Clifford-Lee. 

At the end of last year, announced plans to wage a “war on single-use plastics”and admitted it’s behind on preparing for a new EU law on plastics.

The ban on single-use plastic straws and cutlery have already been suggested at EU level and approved by the European Council. When the decision was made in May, EU member states including Ireland were given two years to transpose the legislation into their national law. 

Minister for Climate Action Richard Bruton said in September that he’ll be bringing forward a number of “radical actions” to reduce waste and manage resources more effectively.

This “radical” strategy will see the government banning plastic plates, cutlery straws, balloon sticks, cotton buds sticks, polystyrene cups and food containers.

It’ll also see the introduction on non-recyclable plastics, like those used for food packaging in supermarkets.

Supermarkets

He also told TheJournal.ie that more punitive measures, such as a ‘name and shame’ approach, could be on the way for supermarkets that do not sign up to plastic reduction pledges. 

Clifford-Lee’s Bill will seek to leapfrog over the government’s plans, which the senator has said have been slow to materialise. 

She will be seeking support for her Bill next week, which she has said will encourage the government to take a “more proactive approach to identifying areas for improvement, as Fianna Fáil did in 2002 when we introduced a levy on single use disposable bags”.

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