A NEW act outlawing the selling or manufacturing of products containing harmful microplastics shows that mindsets are changing, but perhaps not quickly enough.
That’s according to Brendan McCormack, a prominent member of the successful community campaign against a plastics factory in Skibbereen.
The Microbeads Act, just brought into law, also makes it an offence to dispose of any substance containing microbeads by pouring it down the drain or into marine or freshwater environments.
He said: ‘The new Act is very welcome and is a sign of change coming to the ways in which we are beginning to regulate the impact of plastic on our environment.’
However, he added, ‘at a time when the plastics industry is seeking to expand production worldwide, and in light of the quashed planning permission for the plastic factory at Skibbereen, it is a pity that more emphasis on the loss of plastic nurdles during plastic production was not made an explicit part of this Act.’ Mr McCormack added: ‘We have also seen with our case that even when there are laws in place to protect our environment, our statutory bodies are not enforcing them and are causing communities to act as the State so that we all receive the protection of our laws. Our mindsets may be changing gradually, but perhaps not quickly enough to meaningfully change the course of our climate and biodiversity crises.’
He said it was to be applauded that this Act came from a private member’s bill introduced by Deputy Sean Sherlock and Cork South MEP Grace O’Sullivan. ‘It shows the power of environmental thinking outside the main parties and the good effect this can have,’ he said.
Brendan was chair of the SOS group which mobilised a campaign against plans by US company RTP and its Irish subsidiary, Daly Products Ltd, to build a factory at Poundlick on the Baltimore Road in Skibbereen.
The High Court quashed planning for the factory last July.