Radical action is needed to address the plastic pollution problem, Sinn Fein MEP Liadh Ní Riada has said.
The Ireland South MEP was speaking following the European Parliament’s approval of the new Single Use Plastics Directive.
Ms Ní Riada, who co-authored the EU Plastics Strategy with fellow Sinn Féín MEP Lynn Boylan, said the directive was a step in the right direction but did not go far enough.
“I would welcome any move that would take us closer to the goals laid out by myself and Lynn Boylan in our EU Plastics Strategy report, however the time for incremental steps and tweaks to legislation has passed,” she said.
“The planet is now on the precipice of the point of no return when it comes to climate change and environmental disaster.
“The EU needs to be leading from the front on this which is why I cannot help but feel that this directive, while undoubtedly a good thing, is something of a missed opportunity.
“Now is the time for us to be debating and implementing groundbreaking, fundamental change that will force the plastic industry to radically reform the way it operates," she said.
Ms Ní Riada rejected the notion that markets can solve the problem, and said direct state intervention is needed.
“Green capitalism is not the way to tackle plastic pollution. We need to directly regulate how plastic is produced and ensure high targets for recycled content in all plastic products," she said.
She said that Fine Gael has pursued the wrong approach in government, focused on protecting business rather than the environment.
“In order to do that we need real buy in from the EU and from the Irish Government, not lip service.
“The Government say they are in favour of action on climate change, indeed they were only too happy to jump into photos at this month’s climate protests, but Fine Gael’s record tells a different story.
“They consistently endorse money going towards the fossil fuel industry at the expense of our environment in the European Parliament, they have voted against a series of amendments that would have strengthened climate resolutions and they have been dragging their feet on implementing a bottle return scheme in Ireland despite the Dail being in favour of it, a particularly worrying development given their uncomfortably close relationship with REPAK, an organisation with a direct conflict of interest in the introduction of deposit return schemes.
“If this Government put half the time and energy into action on climate change that they do into spin making it look like they’re concerned about climate change we might actually get somewhere," she said.