Earlier this month, Westport in Co Mayo became the first town in Ireland to ban the use of plastic straws. It was a secondary school student who suggested the initiative to the local Tidy Towns committee, and they hope to significantly reduce plastic pollution in the area.
”We are a coastal town and want to preserve the wildlife and nature in Westport,” said Rhona Chambers, a member of the Tidy Towns committee. “Getting rid of plastic straws helps us to do that,” she told the journal.ie. All pubs in the area have agreed to swap plastic straws for biodegradable ones. “We all agreed that it was the right thing to do,” said Sean O’Grady of the Westport Vintners’ Association to the Mayo News. “We should all only be using biodegradable straws by the end of May. We are delighted to do it.” Tidy Towns are hopeful cafes and restaurants will quickly follow suit by 1st June.
The European Union is equally dedicated to eradicating plastic pollution. Yesterday, the EU Commission tweeted, “500,000 tonnes of EU plastic waste ends up in the sea every year. We can only solve this urgent issue together.” Leaders have proposed a ban on single-use plastics; including straws, cutlery, cotton buds and balloon sticks. The proposal will be reviewed by all 28 member states. If approved, the aforementioned items must be made from sustainable materials. What’s more, producers of these products will be forced to contribute to the cost of plastic waste management.
As well as that, EU leaders have called for new labelling requirements on sanitary towels and wet wipes. These will inform consumers of the environmental impact of the product and how to dispose of them properly. Meanwhile, 90% of plastic bottles must be regularly collected and properly disposed of by 2025.
While we have you, check out our new podcast The Spill, with Sophie White and Rhona McAuliffe. In this week's episode, the women chat about plastic surgery, cultural appropriation and overbearing in-laws