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Government to take action on single use plastics in public service

Tuesday, 10 July 2018

The Isle of Man Government is taking action to reduce single use plastics within the public service.

The plan, which has been developed by the Department of Environment, Food and Agriculture, will go before Tynwald at its July sitting, with proposals for a number of immediate and longer-term actions. 

There are several proposed immediate actions:

  • Minimising the use of single use plastics at Government events
  • Ensuring easy access to tap water in Government buildings
  • Banning balloon releases by Government and on Government owned land
  • Building up the capacity of sustainability champions across departments, boards and offices to help educate the workforce on plastic reduction and sustainability
  • A plastics education programme in schools and the wider community in partnership with Manx Wildlife Trust, complementing the work that Beach Buddies is already doing.

The ultimate aim is to eliminate all unnecessary single use plastics across Government by January 2021.

Other initiatives will include:

  • Harmonising recycling schemes across Government
  • Implementing new Government procurement criteria in relation to single use plastics and sustainable alternatives
  • Eliminating other sources of plastic pollution including plastic waste from sewage and waste disposal systems.

Minister for Environment, Food and Agriculture, Geoffrey Boot MHK, said:

'The devastating impact plastics can have on the marine environment is firmly embedded in the public consciousness thanks in particular to the ‘Blue Planet effect’. 

'There is a clear and urgent need to take sustained global action on single use plastics and the Isle of Man must play its part.

'Our Island has led the way with the highly successful Beach Buddies initiative which continues to help keep our shores clear of waste.

'But clearing beaches – while highly valued – addresses the consequence, not the cause.

'This is a complex challenge, but long term change is required by all in our community to ensure plastic is only used in a sustainable way.  It is only right, however, that Government get its own house in order and leads by example.  That is why our first plan mostly focuses on reducing single use plastics within Government, before progressing wider measures within our community.'

As well as the threat to the marine environment – such as causing tangling and choking – single use plastics can be an unstainable use of resources, contributing to global emissions and the climate challenge.

Government intends to develop a complementary plan to reduce single use plastics in the wider community. This is likely to include proposals such as a levy on plastic bags, measures to reduce food and drink packaging, and leveraging the Island’s status as a UNESCO biosphere region to engage and energise the local community in addressing the challenge of single use plastics.

The Chief Minister, Howard Quayle MHK, who promised action on Government’s use of single use plastics earlier this year, said:

'This plan will help deliver a number of the objectives within the Programme for Government, helping to ensure that we can be a sustainable Island and contribute to the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

'A great deal of time and research has gone into this plan using a considered and evidence-based approach. Some proposals are quick-wins and other will take considerable effort to implement.  We must – and will – rise to the challenge of addressing what is one of the most high profile environmental challenges of our time.'

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