Majority of State’s plastics cannot be recycled, says Bruton

Minister calls for reduction in avoidable food waste with plans to ban single-use plastics

The Ballymount recycling plant in Dublin 24. ‘There’s huge scope for us to do a lot better,’ said Minister for Environment Richard Bruton. File photograph: Peter Murtagh

The Ballymount recycling plant in Dublin 24. ‘There’s huge scope for us to do a lot better,’ said Minister for Environment Richard Bruton. File photograph: Peter Murtagh

 

Two-thirds of the plastics used daily in the Republic cannot be recycled, and that number must be dramatically improved, Minister for Climate Action and Environment Richard Bruton has declared.

“Seventy per cent of the food waste that occurs now is avoidable. We’re seeing two-thirds of the plastics that are used are not on the recycling list. So there’s huge scope for us to do a lot better,” he said.

The Minister’s comments came following a meeting with industry players, where he announced plans to overhaul the country’s waste sector in order to meet targets set out in the Government’s Climate Action Plan.

Single-use plastics will be banned; the amount of waste sent to landfill will fall by another 60 per cent, food wastage will be cut by 50 per cent, while a series of levies will be brought in an attempt to change the public’s behaviour.

Saying that it is time for Ireland to end its love affair with plastic, Mr Bruton said: “What we’re trying to do is create a circular economy where we don’t use material, we don’t cast aside materials in a frivolous way, that we don’t have this disposable society.”

Non-recyclable plastics will be banned by 2030. Levies on manufacturers will spur change and encourage “the early movers to change the materials used, getting rid of single-use plastics”.

Businesses can build reputations with customers on moving quickly, the Minister argued: “People will want to look at manufacturers or retailers or producers, and see that they are stepping out to be leaders,” he said.

However, householders must do more, too: “The sad truth is that 50 per cent of organic material is not going into the brown bin, it’s scattered through the other ones . . . You can’t put film in with the items that are recyclable, or else you can contaminate the whole load,” he said.