Irish govt set to tackle fast fashion, plastic waste

January 16, 2020 - Ireland

Ireland’s ‘radical’ new waste strategy will focus on reducing plastic packaging waste and waste generated by fast fashion and food items in the country, according to minister for communications, climate action and environment Richard Bruton, who said Ireland must ‘radically change’ its ‘wasteful’ use of precious resources as part of its Climate Action Plan.

Over 200 kg of waste packaging, 59 kg of which is plastic, is generated per person every year in Ireland, above average among EU neighbours, according to Ireland’s department for communications, climate action and environment.

More than half of fast fashion is disposed of in less than a year, and food waste alone costs the country’s homeowners €700 a year and accounts for a loss of €1 billion to the country’s enterprises, according to Irish media reports.

The department has sought views on measures to tackle fast fashion, better labelling for recyclable goods, targets to ensure correct bins are used, providing clearer information on what goes into each bin, measures to halve food waste, ending the use of non-recyclable plastic, how to further crack down on illegal dumping, incentivising the use of recycled materials in the construction industry, working with other European Union (EU) member states to design the structure of an EU-wide plastic packaging tax to encourage the further prevention of plastic packaging and raising awareness on how best to manage their waste.

“We need to act now and we have identified 75 measures which can be quickly implemented. These include enforcing existing rules, encouraging audits and waste reduction targets, higher fees for difficult to recycle packaging and bringing commercial vehicle tyres into the successful tyre recycling scheme,” the minister said.

“We may also introduce mandatory brown bin collections, ban bulky waste from landfill, place costs of cigarette butt clean up on the tobacco industry and expand the items allowed in the green bin. Sectoral initiatives will be promoted, particularly in the food sector,” he was quoted as saying.

The Irish government plans to ban single-use plastic plates, cutlery, straws, balloon sticks, cotton bud sticks, polystyrene cups and food containers and introduce fees on non-recyclable plastics, like on food packaging in supermarkets.