Can We Lead the Way in Plastic Reduction?
Updated: Nov 29, 2018
We are very lucky to be part of the forward thinking university of NUI Galway, with an open minded, informed & aware student body, based in a country that has shown in the past that we can be progressive & at the forefront of change.
Remember the introduction of the plastic bag levy? It almost felt like an attack on our human rights in 2002, as we juggled our groceries in our hands back to our cars in an attempted moral stance against the poor cashier that tried to charge you 15c for a plastic bag. But really we knew it was 15c towards the government, and they get enough of our hard earned money as it is right? So no, a bag for life it is.
Genius in a way wasn’t it? That initiative inspired a huge number of copycat schemes around the world, showing Ireland as a first mover in tackling the plastic crisis, that in 2002, we as customers didn’t know too much about.
That levy led to a 95% reduction in plastic bag use, generating €12.8m per year for the exchequer from the 15c a pop for every customer continuing to use single use plastic bags. Should we now ban the use of single use plastic bags altogether? New Zealand is the latest In a long list of countries to have completely banned single use plastic bags. (let us know in the comment section below)
What the plastic bag levy, very importantly also achieved was debunking the “free plastic” myth. We’ve just come to accept that we are in some way entitled to free plastic bags, plastic cutlery, coffee cups, etc.
With the war against plastic heating up in recent times, how do we tackle the single use coffee cups / cutlery issue? Should we tax the use these too? 200 million coffee cups are dumped each year in Ireland, that’s a pretty scary figure isn’t it? Plastics are ending up in the world’s oceans at an alarming rate, and if it’s in our oceans, you can best believe it’s in our fish. So now we’re eating plastic too, with the various carcinogens we know are in them. So yeah, it’s a pretty big deal now. The first step is just being mindful of the amount of plastic you use in a single day, I bet you’ll be surprised.
So what are we doing here in An Bhialann to help waste less?
Take a look at some of the initiatives we are running to waste less.
In the spirits of #wastelessweek by Sodexo we’ve given each member of staff their own Aspretto travel mug to reduce the waste created by ourselves during staff lunch breaks. Customers who bring a travel mug with them will also get 20c off their purchase for not using single use plastic.
We created a WastLess poster board & invited students and staff to post ideas here of how to reduce waste. We are awarding free Aspretto travel mugs to some of the top ideas.
It's probably impossible to totally eliminate plastic from our lives, but there are important steps we can take to reduce the amount of plastic we use. Let's push to the forefront again and make the changes now while we still can. Although there's plastic all around us, there doesn't have to be. Look for plastic alternatives whenever possible. When there's no reasonable alternative to plastic, be sure to recycle the plastic you use rather than simply throwing it in the trash.