From today, Government departments will no longer purchase single-use plastic cups, cutlery and straws, the Minister for Climate Action and the Environment has announced.
In addition, the purchase of such plastics will be banned for all Government agencies and schools from March 31st “except where specific public health/hygiene or safety issues arise”, Richard Bruton’s department said.
The ban is part of Government efforts to “lead the way” in limiting the use of single-use plastics ahead of expected broader proposals from the EU to cut down on plastic pollution.
“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,” Mr Bruton said.
“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.”
As well as a ban on purchasing single-use plastics, all public bodies must report by November 2019 on measures they have taken to minimise waste and increase recycling.
All Government departments must also develop resource efficiency action plans by the end of June to cut down on electricity and water use. “These plans will help staff make savings in energy and water use as well as preventing food waste and maximising recycling,” the department said.
Mr Bruton also said he would work with the Office of Government Procurement to bring forward plans to make procurement policy more environmentally friendly.
"Ireland is way off course in our response to climate disruption. It is 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 Minister said.