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Plastic waste challenge in Ireland needs to be addressed, says Mairead McGuinness MEP

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Mairead McGuinness MEP and vice-president of the European Parliament recently addressed the serious issue facing Ireland regarding waste management arising from the immediate ban imposed by China on imports of plastic and the potential threat posed by Brexit, at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France.

According to Mairead, we need to wake up to the reality that our waste problems will intensify unless we address the immediate challenge to plastic waste and the longer-term threat to the recycling of our toxic waste.
“Ireland produces more plastic waste than any other EU country, according to new Eurostat figures and, therefore, faces a real problem in disposing of this waste now that China will no longer accept plastic waste from any EU member state. Additionally, we rely on the UK for the disposal of 40 per cent of our hazardous waste. When the UK leaves the EU, Ireland may no longer be able to send this toxic waste for disposal,” Mairead said.
“The answer cannot be more illegal dumping. There is already too much of that spoiling our countryside and my fear is that more plastic waste will end up in ditches and fields, randomly dumped without thought for the consequences.
“On the policy side, an agreement was reached before Christmas on new EU waste-management targets, including ambitious recycling targets for municipal waste of 65 per cent by 2035, further reduction in use of landfill for municipal waste with a target of 10 per cent in 2035.
“This week, the EU Commission launched a new plastic strategy aiming to get rid of single-use plastics to reduce the volume of waste ending up in oceans and landfill. It is a shocking statistic that 13 million tonnes of plastic end up in the world's oceans every year.
“Restrictions are proposed on microplastics intentionally added to toughen up plastics. Single-use plastics are a very serious problem and must be tackled. This policy is designed to clamp down on single-use plastics that take five seconds to produce, are used for five minutes, and yet, take 500 years to break down.”
Packaging of goods accounts for 59 per cent of plastic waste and online shopping is creating even more packaging waste, warned Mairead. “The rise in internet sales is also leading to an increasing in waste, including plastic waste and this needs to be addressed by companies who use online sales.”


Tags: illegal dumping China EU Commission Mairead McGuinness EU waste management microplastics landfill hazardous waste Eurostat