Northern Ireland Minister for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, Edwin Poots, is calling on the public to respond to the single-use plastic (SUP) drinks and food packaging consultation before it ends this Friday, January 14.

“There’s still time to respond to the proposals, so I would encourage everyone who cares about our environment and plastic pollution to take few minutes this week and get your response in," he said.

“In October [2021], I launched the Consultation for the Reduction of Single-Use Plastic Beverage Cups and Food Containers and I extended it for a further four weeks until January 14, to ensure we could get feedback and opinions from as many people as possible," Poots continued.

“Each year, we throw away 70 million SUP drinks cups and 150 million SUP food containers – that’s over 220 million items ending up mostly in landfill or in our oceans.

These items can take decades to biodegrade at best, and at worst, some can take centuries. We must take action to stop this pollution and to find better alternatives that our good for our environment.

"There is growing concern about the devastating impact of this plastic pollution in the long term and its impacts upon climate change and plastic pollution, in particular into the marine environment. I want you to join our fight against this surge of pollution.”

Consultation on single-use plastics

The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) designed the consultation for the reduction of single-use plastic beverage cups and food containers with WRAP (the Waste and Resources Action Programme) with an aim to consider a number of policy options on the most effective way to ensure a substantial reduction in the use of SUP beverage cups and food containers.

The goal of the policy is to reduce the use of the targeted types of SUP packaging and to encourage the wider take up of multi-use (MU) and/or single-use non-plastic (SUNP) alternatives.

Responses can be submitted online, via the DAERA website.