Dublin South West TD Seán Crowe has said he was more than happy to give his support to the effort to ban microbeads and micro-plastics which are extremely hazardous to our environment.
The Sinn Féin TD was commenting on the Prohibition of Micro-Plastics Bill 2016 which was recently debated in the Dáil.
Deputy Seán Crowe said:
“I want to warmly welcome this Bill by Seán Sherlock TD and am more than happy to support such an initiative aimed at reducing the huge amount of plastic entering our oceans.
“Sinn Féin has continually highlighted the problem of micro-plastics, and I would like to thank my party colleague Lynn Boylan MEP for her work on the issue in the European Parliament.
“Microbeads and micro-plastics are so small they cannot be filtered out during water treatment and end up in our rivers and oceans.
“These tiny pieces of plastic are then eaten by marine life and can end up in the human food chain. Their effects on human health are still unknown, but it does not take an award winning scientist to recognise that their side effects are not conducive to a healthy body.”
Microbeads and other micro-plastics are used in a variety of cosmetic and personal care products such as scrubs, soaps, lotions and toothpastes.
These plastic particles enter the environment because they are not caught in water treatment systems they are released into rivers and the sea, with waste water outflows.
In December 2014 the Netherlands, Austria, Luxembourg, Belgium and Sweden issued a joint statement to EU environment ministers calling for an EU ban on micro-plastics in cosmetics and detergents.
However, a January 2016 research report commissioned by the European Commission looked at what EU mechanisms were available to reduce micro-bead pollution from cosmetics.
That report concluded that introducing a ban on microbes at EU level would be more complicated than the laws used in the US and Canada and said it was unclear whether any of the existing Directives and Regulations identified would be suitable.
In light of this hesitancy at EU level, domestic action is necessary and Deputy Crowe believes the response from some of the other political parties to this environmental problem has been inadequate.
“This is a growing international trend and Ireland should not be left behind with this progressive move towards removing these harmful pieces of plastic that cannot degrade in the environment.
“Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil’s rejection of a previous piece of legislation brought forward by the Green Party last year was disappointing. They failed to give any rational argument as to why Ireland should not proceed ahead with a similar ban.
“Citing EU rules is a worn out excuse, as the European Commission has already said to the British government that it can proceed to introduce their ban on microbeads and explicitly stating that ‘a ban on certain substances on environmental grounds could also be compatible with the internal market.’
“Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael’s joint decision to abstain on the vote on this Bill is an improvement on their previous position, but unsurprisingly they remain at the back of the queue when it comes to forward thinking on the environment.
“There are alternatives to micro beads currently available but because of the cost factor, or some other reason, the cosmetic industry seems reluctant to voluntarily move way from micro-plastics and it’s long past the time that manufacturers were forced to use more environmentally friendly ingredients in their products.
“This Bill provides a simple solution to an avoidable and growing environment problem and I was happy to support it.”