Written answers

Thursday, 18 February 2021

Department of Housing, Planning, and Local Government

Environmental Policy

Photo of Bernard DurkanBernard Durkan (Kildare North, Fine Gael)
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119. To ask the Minister for Housing, Planning, and Local Government the steps taken to reduce the extent to which microplastics are damaging marine life; the practical decisions taken or likely to be taken in this regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9348/21]

Photo of Darragh O'BrienDarragh O'Brien (Dublin Fingal, Fianna Fail)
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In terms of addressing primary microplastic sources, the Microbeads (Prohibition) Act 2019 prohibits the manufacture or placing on the market of any water soluble personal care product, such as cosmetics, soaps and body washes containing microbeads. It also prohibits the sale or manufacture of household or industrial cleaning products containing plastic microbeads.

Any measure or activity that reduces plastic items entering the environment, or removes them from it, reduces secondary microplastic inputs caused by fragmentation. Thus, litter control measures or waste reduction measures such as the such as Directive (EU) 2019/904 on the reduction of the impact of certain plastic products on the environment, commonly referred to as the Single Use Plastics (SUP) Directive, will reduce microplastic inputs also. The SUP Directive is currently being transposed into Irish law by my colleague the Minister for the Environment Climate and Communications.

On top of these actions, the Clean Coasts programme, operated by an Taisce and funded by my Department, activates thousands of groups around the country who clean and maintain sections of our coast. This programme removes significant quantities of plastic litter from our beach and coasts while also raising awareness of marine litter and other marine environmental issues.

The international Fishing for Litter Scheme that Ireland incorporates into the Department of Agriculture Fisheries and the Marine's Clean Oceans Initiative help to directly remove plastic litter pollution from our marine environment that could otherwise break down into secondary microplastics.

Ireland is working with other EU Member States to develop further regulatory measures to reduce the effects of microplastics on the marine environment through the forthcoming EU draft REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals) regulations under the EU Plastics Strategy and with non-EU Countries through the OSPAR Convention.


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