‘Single-use-plastic-free’ Derry can be realised in five years, say Colrs.

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A ‘single-use-plastic-free’ Derry is realisable in as little as five years through the implementation of Derry City and Strabane District Council’s zero waste strategy, the authority’s monthly meeting for January has heard.

SDLP councillor Angela Dobbins told colleagues that the everyday use and disposal of plastic cups, bottles and bags was needless but, nonetheless, poisoning the planet and turning parts of the world’s oceans into a ‘plastic soup’.

She said it was time for the Council to take the lead in tacking the problem both in Derry and Strabane and regionally.

Colr. Dobbins won unanimous support for a motion welcoming the Council’s adoption of a “circular economy/zero waste strategy” and the proposed development of “a more robust strategy to tackle waste that includes achievable targets to make this Council a ‘single-use-plastic-free’ authority in the next five years”.

Councillors agreed that the local authority should “end the sale and provision of single-use plastic products such as bottles, cups, cutlery and straws in Council buildings where possible”.

Colr. Dobbins’ motion also hailed “the significant decrease in the use of plastic bags since 2013, when the 5p charge for single use carrier bags was introduced”.

After her motion was passed unanimously, she said: “Single-use plastic is everywhere. In a matter of mere decades, it has seeped into every corner of our lives. We have become addicted to the convenience of single-use plastic.

“It’s astounding how an average person thinks it’s normal to buy a single-use plastic water bottle, take-away coffee cup, lunch wrapped in disposable plastic packaging, and possibly a plastic bag everyday.

“The immense quantities of plastic that are required to feed that addiction over the years, whether it’s in a household, a town, a country, or globally, is phenomenal.”

Ulster Unionist Councillor Derek Hussey said he was confident the Council would be able to outlaw single-use plastics in quite a short space of time.

Colr. Hussey noted the ubiquity of plastic bottles was a relatively new phenomenon.

“Like one or two others in the chamber I’m old enough to remember a time when there wasn’t as much plastic and you went around and collected bottles and used the wheen of coppers you got from that to go to the matinee on a Saturday afternoon.

“So this is not pie in the sky, it’s clearly possible,” said Colr. Hussey.

Sinn Féin’s Sandra Duffy warned that the pollution of the world’s waterways with plastics was poisoning food supplies and as such was a major public health concern.

“Single-use plastics are a massive threat to our environment.

“It’s killing our oceans and killing our marine life and we all need to take responsibility for it.

“If there’s anything we can do as a Council to lead on that we should be doing it,” she said.

Independent Darren O’Reilly agreed that a consumerist convenience culture was a major part of the problem.

“We have an issue worldwide and I think we have an issue locally with people living lives, as conveninet as they think it is, they are not looking at the wider implications for their children and their children’s children,” he commented.