For Immediate Release 12th October 2018

In response to the plastic crisis, the European Commission is proposing new EU-wide rules targeting 10 of the most common plastic items found across Europe’s coastlines.

Progress on the bill has been made this week, but environmental groups have just discovered a loophole that could allow producers dodge penalisation.

According to the Rethink Plastic Alliance; the EU Environmental Committee (ENVI ) left the gate wide open on the definition of what is a ‘single-use plastic’ which poses risks in weakening the bill.

This loophole could allow manufacturers to claim a plastic bottle or fork is reusable by printing a message like ‘please reuse this item’ on the product. Bans could potentially be avoided through marketing plastic items as ‘reusable’ despite them being designed for single use.

“A coke bottle or plastic straw is not something consumers are going to put in their bag and reuse”, argues VOICE Coordinator, Mindy O’Brien. “Even if it is used a second time, it doesn’t qualify as a reusable item. Reusable items are made to last, whereas plastic bottles and cutlery are made for one use – after which they begin to deteriorate in quality”.

Voice of Irish Concern for the Environment (VOICE) call on Irish MEPs and the Department for Communications, Climate and the Environment to close a loophole that industry could drive a lorry full of plastic through.

Ireland tops the leader board in its consumption of plastic; weighing in at 61 kg of plastic packaging per head - twice the EU average.

“Strong legislation on single use plastics at EU level is crucial for tackling plastic waste at home”, says Mindy O’Brien from VOICE. “Only with increased producer liability and more economic incentives such as the Deposit Refund Scheme for drinks containers and a levy for single use plastic packaging (such as a latte levy) will Ireland break this dirty habit.”

The ENVI has made its first imprint on the fast moving Single-Use Plastic (SUP) legislation and on Wednesday adopted many amendments that would strengthen the legislation such as including bio-based plastic in the definition of ‘plastic’ and extending the ban to include expanded polystyrene packaging (Styrofoam) and lightweight plastic bags.

This bill will move on to full Parliament plenary consideration in a few weeks time.

“We hope our Irish MEPs will be deaf to business interests that put profit ahead of the health of our planet, wildlife and people”, adds Mindy from VOICE.

Act now - sign this petition telling the European Parliament to fix this before it's too late!

Pictured: VOICE, SWAN (Sustainable Water Network) and Coastwatch Ireland calling for alternatives to single use plastics on Rosie Hacket Bridge for World Ocean's Day earlier this year.