Why should I use less plastic?

Plastic made from petroleum-based production is a contributor of C02 emissions which leads to global warming and climate change. Most of the plastic that is produced is non biodegradable and will last in the environment for many centuries causing significant negative impacts to our environment, killing wildlife and damaging our health.

Each year, 400 million tonnes of plastic is produced and 40% of that is single-use — plastic we’ll only use once before it’s binned.

Is plastic a problem in NI and what action is being taken?

Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful (KNIB) 2019 – 2020 undertook an analysis of litter collection. From their investigation NI uses 145 million single use plastic bottles every year which end up in landfill or incinerated releasing pollutants into the atmosphere.  The latest figures from KNIB also show the worrying extent of our plastic problem. Over 75% of litter found on Northern Ireland’s beaches was plastic.

New Northern Ireland laws are anticipated from 2022 that will see a range of single use plastic items being banned, some being redesigned and actions being taken to reduce the one time use of other unnecessary plastic products. There is a plan to introduce a Deposit Return Scheme in NI to encourage consumers to recycle their plastic. This will have a positive impact on plastic waste ending up as litter damaging the natural environment and our rivers and sea. The challenge still remains that plastic is being created and to dispose of it through incineration or to remanufacture into recycled product will use resources and continue to release pollutants into the atmosphere. The best solution is to reduce the amount of plastic that is created in the first place.

Litter Composition Producer Report

An analysis of litter composition from Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful (2019-2020)
Packaging Breakdown

What can I do… to reduce plastic use?

Meet the NIRN members working to reduce plastic use in NI and find out how to get involved.

Refill NI

Refill NI encourages communities, businesses and local governments to provide FREE drinking water to the public at an increasing number of Refill stations across NI so that Refilling your water bottle becomes an easy to do everyday habit, and ultimately protecting our environment from single use plastic bottle waste.  They are also working with local authorities to encourage development of public drinking spaces across the region.

Find refill locations near you > 

Zero Waste North West

Zero Waste North West initially started to oppose the planned incineration plant in the Derry City Council and Strabane area. They were concerned that incineration of waste material including plastic would release pollutants into the atmosphere and have negative impacts on the health of the people of the region.  The incineration plant project was cancelled.

They engage with Derry City & Strabane council in promoting a Zero Waste Strategy and in planning festivals to encourage the reduction of waste generated particularly plastic.

Disposable nappies are an enormous challenge as the plastic used within them is particularly difficult to break down and get rid of. Zero Waste North West appointed a Cloth Nappy Development Officer to work in the region with parents to encourage this as a more environmentally friendly alternative whilst also providing cost savings for those who adopt.

Derry City and Strabane District Council

Derry City and Strabane District Council lead the way in zero waste. They are the 1st region in UK and Ireland to adopt and Zero Waste Strategy and a Circular Economy Strategy

They proactively engage across the region on a range of activities to reduce the creation of plastic and other forms of waste and encourage individuals  communities and businesses in adopting a Circular Economy

What action can you do to support your local council ?

Stop buying plastic bottles.
Carry a reusable shopping bag.
Say no to plastic straws.
Use your own takeaway cup. 
Carry reusable containers.
Put the correct items in the right bin.