Plastic Reduction Action Plan: Narrow Scope

Oral Answers to Questions — Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 3:15 pm on 4th May 2021.

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Photo of Emma Sheerin Emma Sheerin Sinn Féin 3:15 pm, 4th May 2021

T3. Ms Sheerin asked the Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs why the scope of his plastic reduction action plan is so narrow, in that it applies to government buildings only. (AQT 1263/17-22)

Photo of Edwin Poots Edwin Poots DUP

There are some nine different pieces of plastic involved. It is our intention to roll things out considerably further and to increase the plastic bag levy, which we are doing currently. We recognise the damage that plastic does and the fact that much unrequired plastic has been used in the past. We therefore want to screen out single-use plastics from Departments and, indeed, beyond.

Photo of Emma Sheerin Emma Sheerin Sinn Féin

Go raibh maith agat. I thank the Minister for his answer. Minister, as you will be aware, you are required to implement the articles of the EU single-use plastics directive that apply to the North and that are to be transposed in July of this year. The action plan that you have produced does not provide me with a lot of confidence as to your commitment to a reduction in single-use plastic usage. Will you commit to applying those articles as per the time frame? Will you go further and say that, owing to the innovative ideas contained within, you will look at implementing the directives to which you are not required to commit?

Photo of Edwin Poots Edwin Poots DUP

You are the first person whom I have heard say that she does not have confidence in my commitment. That has not been expressed anywhere else. That suggests to me that your reason is more political than anything else. What I will say is that I do not need an EU directive to know the difference between right and wrong. I believe that we should be reducing the use of plastic, full stop. I do not need a bureaucrat in Brussels to tell me to do that.