Demonstrators gather outside Leinster House in protest against plastic waste

Campaigners and the Green Party are calling for a deposit/refund scheme for drinks containers

Demonstrators gather outside Leinster House in protest against plastic waste

Image: Stephanie Grogan

Environmental campaigners have held a protest outside Leinster House to highlight the amount of plastic that is wasted in Ireland.

It is estimated that we throw away half a million coffee cups and 2.5 million plastic bottles every day.

Today's demonstration was held to coincide with an Oireachtas committee debate on the Waste Reduction Bill being put forward by the Green Party.

The bill proposes a deposit/refund scheme for drinks containers - meaning consumers would receive a small refund for returning their used containers for recycling - as well as a ban on single-use plastics such as disposable coffee cups and cutlery.

Campaigners say they've gathered more than 7,000 signatures in favour of a deposit/refund scheme being introduced here.

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan suggests that waste reduction measures being introduced in other territories 'reinforce the case' for his party's bill.

He observed: "Earlier this month the Chinese Government introduced new measures which will restrict the exporting of our plastic waste to their country for recycling.

"Last week the UK Government introduced a new recycling strategy and yesterday the European Commission presented its new Plastics Strategy which calls for an end to the throwing away and burning of our plastic waste."

Speaking at the ‘ditch plastic’ demonstration today, Oisin Coghlan from Friends of the Earth said plastic is destroying our environment.

He argued: "It's getting into the sea, it's damaging birds and fish. The really small plastics that are in our detergents and our cosmetics are actually getting into the fish themselves, and ultimately into the food chain that we eat.

"There's too much being used - we need to cut it down, and we need to recycle as much as possible."

Yesterday, the European Union revealed a new Europe-wide strategy on plastics.

The proposed measures include a plan for all plastic packaging used in Europe to be recyclable or reusable by 2030.

Additional reporting by Stephanie Grogan