We need to wake up to the reality that our waste problems will intensify.
Ireland is facing very serious issue around waste management arising from the immediate ban imposed by China on imports of plastic and the potential threat posed by Brexit, Mairead McGuinness MEP and Vice-President of the European Parliament has said.
Speaking in the European Parliament in Strasbourg on the new EU Strategy for plastics in the circular economy, the Midlands North West MEP said 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.
"According to Eurostat figures, Ireland produces more plastic waste than any other EU country 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 percent of our hazardous waste. When the UK leaves the EU, Ireland may no longer be able to send this toxic waste for disposal," MEP McGuinness 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 65pc by 2035, further reduction in use of landfill for municipal waste with a target of 10pc 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 thirteen million tons of plastic end up in the world's oceans every year.
"Restrictions are proposed on micro plastics 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 59pc of plastic waste and online shopping is creating even more packaging waste, warned McGuinness: "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 on-line sales".
Ireland has to find solutions immediately to the Chinese decision to stop taking plastics, according to the MEP.