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08th May 2018

Westport to become Ireland’s first plastic straw-free town

Kate Demolder

Ireland is currently the top producer of plastic waste in the EU.

Westport is aiming to become the first town in Ireland to eradicate the use of plastic straws entirely.

The initiative was put forward by Transition Year students at a recent Westport Tidy Towns committee meeting as part of its entry into the 2018 national competition.

The meeting was convened to discuss initiatives that would improve life in the town and that would form the committee’s entry into the 2018 SuperValu TidyTowns competition.

The committee has since received commitment from local vintners that, from 1 June, only biodegradable straws will be used in their establishments.

The town of Westport boasts a long association with the competition, claiming victory three times in the contest’s history.

Rhona Chambers, a member of Westpost TidyTowns committee says that a community-wide effort is crucial.

“The SuperValu TidyTowns competition is all about businesses and communities working together to make a difference and we hope that by eliminating plastic straws we can make a difference to Westport,” Chambers said.

“We are a coastal town and want to preserve the wildlife and nature in Westport, so getting rid of plastic straws helps us to do that.”

Birdhill, Co Tipperary took home both the title of Ireland’s tidiest town in 2017 and Ireland’s tidiest village, claiming 332 marks, a trophy and €10,000 for their efforts.

Back in 2017, China – the world’s largest recyclable materials importer – decided to ban the importing of plastics from European countries, including Ireland.

The year before, 95% of Ireland’s plastic waste had been imported to China in an attempt to reduce the country’s carbon footprint. However, due to the recent ban, this is no longer a viable option.

Martin Kelleher, Managing Director at SuperValu, believes that the involvement of the younger generation will ensure that this initiative is one of many which aims to make Ireland more environmentally friendly.

“This is the kind of forward-thinking initiative that the SuperValu TidyTowns competition is all about,” Kelleher said.

“Westport TidyTowns has got the next generation involved and through this innovative idea is reducing the environmental impact on the town and its surroundings.”

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