Time to ban single use plastics – Walsh

-   Maria Walsh

European Parliament candidate Maria Walsh is working with Minister Bruton on climate action and single use plastics

Maria Walsh is calling for a ban on single use plastics in the fight against climate change and is  encouraging everyone in the West and North West to take personal responsibility on climate action.

The Fine Gael European Parliament candidate was speaking today (Friday) in Galway as Minister for Communications, Climate Action and the Environment Richard Bruton visited Portumna to highlight local initiatives on single use plastics.

Ms Walsh said: “Plastics have enormously important uses, but they are very intensive users of scarce resources. Our love affair with plastic has degenerated to complete indulgence. We put plastic to totally unnecessary uses, discard it frivolously, and pay too little heed to where it ends up.

“We know what we have to do:

  • Ban Single-Use Plastics, except for the essential purposes
  • Avoid the use of plastics where more sustainable substitutes are available
  • Develop strong channels for reuse at all stages of the supply chain
  • End the manufacture of all non-recyclable plastics
  • Avoid contamination by careful segregation and capture for the best recovery into the production chain
  • Stretch our recycling efforts to hit the highest attainable targets
  • Prioritise reused product over virgin plastic throughout the chain

“I have discussed these ambitions with Minister Richard Bruton and we are determined to work together to realisation.

“Europe can play a central role in underpinning these objectives and if elected to the European Parliament I will strive relentlessly to achieve them.

“As a candidate for the Midlands-North West constituency, I have strongly advocated that everyone can avail of all funding and resources to ensure we can transition over the next decade into a plastics free environment.    Personal responsibility is also important here and everyone can do their bit. Check out Ireland’s official guide to managing waste at website mywaste.ie for example, to learn what you can and can’t recycle.

“The EU plastic strategy took a radical step of committing to ensuring all plastic in Europe will be recyclable by 2030.

“Microbeads are also of huge concern with three quarters of fish caught during a trans-Atlantic crossing having micro plastics in their stomach.  The Clean Oceans Initiative is a government backed plan to enlist more than 200 Irish fishing fleet to clean up the seas around Ireland.  The fishing industry is integral to this region, particularly in Killybegs and Rossaveel, and must be supported through clean initiatives to ensure sustainability for generations to come.

“We know what we have to do and already many sports clubs, schools and businesses across the West and North West, have implemented plastic free zones, this is to be praised and encouraged. Small steps can make a big and immediate positive impact. Of course, the greater the role a person plays the greater the responsibility. It is very welcome to see companies taking a lead – to eliminate single use plastics, to allow customers avoid or hand back unnecessary plastic, to use 100% recycled material in plastic manufacture. However the initiatives of the pioneers must quickly become the standard. Customers should demand it and regulators monitor. We must lay bare the full supply chain with transparent data.

“A great example of a local community initiative is the ‘take three for the sea’ project which was spearheaded by Cllr and Local Elections candidate Sinead Maguire in Strandhill. Members of the Strandhill community pick up three pieces of plastic each time they visit the strand and dispose of them correctly. Through this simple, yet effective community work, we can all contribute to efforts and accountability for cleaning up our coastal areas.

In the European Strategy for plastics in a Circular Economy – one of the four key actions highlights the driving of innovation and investment towards circular solutions.

Maria says, “I believe that we must deliver, and while there is no ‘flick of a switch’ solution, we cannot mask the damage that has already taken place. What we can do is educate ourselves in how we can make changes in our everyday lives, with the support of positive policies and targets such as those set by the EU.”

Maria highlighted the need for a strong, inclusive voices in Europe, and concluded by saying “on May 24th choose candidates that will act on climate issues.”

Minister Richard Bruton said, “The priority Maria is giving the protection of our planet is what Europe needs today. As a member of parliament, she will ensure that these goals- that can only be achieved through international collaboration, will be delivered.

“There are principles which any one of us, from the youngest child to the most sophisticated multinational business leader can understand and apply. This can be a pledge with our environment that should be just the start of a different relationship with the scares resources which our planet provides. It can be a gateway to a much healthier sustainable and authentic lifestyle and livelihood.

“It is very welcome to see companies taking a lead – to eliminate single use plastics, to allow customers avoid or hand back unnecessary plastic, to use 100% recycled material in plastic manufacture. However the initiatives of the pioneers must quickly become the standard. Customers should demand it and regulators must monitor. We must lay bare the full supply chain with transparent data,” Minister Bruton said.

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