Varadkar promises ban on single-use plastic in public sector

Ban on unnecessary use of plastic will extend to all State agencies, hospitals and schools

The Government has promised to lead a “war on single-use plastics” in Ireland by banning them from use by the public sector.

Minister for Climate Change Richard Bruton will outline plans early in the new year to impose a total ban on unnecessary single-use plastics across the entirety of the public sector in the coming year.

The ban will extend to all Government departments, State agencies, hospitals and schools.

Details of the proposed ban were disclosed by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in a round-robin interview with the media at Christmas.


He was also asked about his promise to bring the use of single-use plastics to an end in his own department. Mr Varadkar said he was not sure if his department had been fully effective in removing them, but was going to “get there”.

“And the plan is to do that across Government departments and then different agencies as well,” he said. “We also plan to legislate in this area as well.”

Mr Varadkar argued that Ireland has done very well on the environment front and possibly does not get enough credit for it.

“We are a leader when it comes to recycling and we are a leader when it comes to renewable energy. Obviously, climate emissions and greenhouse gas are areas where we are a laggard and falling way behind.

“But I think there is a whole environmental agenda that is about climate change, but [it] is about more than climate change. And plastics is a big part of that.

“So we will have the legislation on microbeads enacted next year and there is a European law on single-use plastics as well and we are very much behind that.”

Mr Bruton will also, over the course of 2019, be setting out new and more ambitious actions for recycling of plastics, according to a Government spokesman.

“He will also be looking at new ways to work with retailers and producers to reduce plastics use in packaging voluntarily,” he said.

A Bill to ban plastic microbeads, which present a huge risk to sea life and aquatic ecosystems, is expected to complete its passage through the Dáil and Seanad and into law during 2019.

Harry McGee

Harry McGee

Harry McGee is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times