Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees
Wednesday, 17 January 2018
Joint Oireachtas Committee on Communications, Climate Action and Environment
Scrutiny of the Waste Reduction Bill 2017
I thank all the witnesses. I listened intently to all the arguments and points raised.
Sinn Féin broadly supports Deputy Ryan's Bill. The Deputy has listened to the debate. We acknowledge the Bill would possibly have to be heavily amended, but that is a matter of tweaking. Stepping back and looking at the broad picture - Deputy Dooley touched on this and was spot on - it is about the environment but also about people, and we are the people. The key here is that we need to be healthy to survive, so we must take a realistic and common-sense approach to the matter.
I reject a few of the comments made. Luckily enough, I remember as a young fellow getting the old 5p coin back for the glass bottle. I certainly did not go scavenging through bins, but it was an adventure and an education for young kids at the time. Our Saturday morning was getting up early and walking the country roads, hoping to God that, the farmer having cut the ditch, the bottle would not be broken because, if it was, we would not get the 5p. The comments about scavenging are a bit of a myth. Such schemes are a very cute and selective way to educate people. It was mentioned a while ago that we must educate people about recycling. Let us do so in a common-sense and rewardable way.
I acknowledge that legal dumping happens. I am a little disappointed by the Minister's recent statement and the fact that money was being allocated to address the issues, therefore effectively admitting we are possibly heading towards more legal dumping. The other side of that is that I acknowledge what Ms Mindy O'Brien said a while ago. It is said that by 2050 the plastic in our seas will outweigh the fish. That will be horrific if it comes to fruition. The more worrying thing about it, and this goes back to my comments about the environment and people, is that we will be eating the product from the sea. We should not be human recyclers in this. I go back to my first point, which was that the environment and people both have to be healthy to survive. As I said, I support the broad thrust of the Bill, although tabling amendments to it would be a common-sense approach. Things are achievable, and I appeal to all to think outside the box.