DCU to become plastic-free by 2020

Friends of the Earth targets supermarket packaging on day of action in April

Dublin City University has announced it is to become "plastic-free" by 2020 beginning with the immediate withdrawal from use of plastic cups at all its campuses.

It has identified a range of single-use, disposable plastic items to be eliminated due to their detrimental impact on the environment. The initiative is “the result of a common drive by the university and its students’ union to create a more sustainable campus environment”, it said on Tuesday.

Takeaway coffee cups, single-use plastic takeaway containers, takeaway cutlery, straws and single-use plastic bags will be eliminated by September 2018, with plastic water and soft-drink bottles phased out by 2020.

DCU president Prof Brian MacCraith said: “Our prioritisation of sustainability as a key theme reflects DCU’s commitment to address a very real challenge, both at local and global levels. Today’s announcement is the start of a journey which will help set best practice for our students, staff and society around us.”


Plastics crisis

Minister for Climate Action and Environment Denis Naughten commended DCU staff and students for their leadership on the issue. "As a society we discard an incredible 80 per cent of what we produce after a single use. We have a global and a national plastics crisis and our young people are central to solving it through leading by example and helping to change collective behaviour," he said.

Meanwhile, environmental group Friends of the Earth Ireland has announced details of its "Sick of Plastic Campaign", a day of action on supermarket packaging on Saturday, April 21st. It is asking people to "shop and drop" on that date; shop as normal in their local supermarket and then take off excess plastic packaging at the checkout and leave it with the cashier.

Friends of the Earth director Oisín Coghlan said people were sick of plastic, and of having more and more of it “dumped on us by retailers who make us responsible for trying to recycle it”. There were lots of things retailers could do to reduce plastic packaging, he added, while he hoped consumers would use the day of action “to show supermarkets we want them to act”.

Kevin O'Sullivan

Kevin O'Sullivan

Kevin O'Sullivan is Environment and Science Editor and former editor of The Irish Times