May 9th, 2018
Students and staff at Trinity College Dublin are taking action to tackle the serious issue of plastic waste in Ireland.
The University had agreed to replace or eliminate disposable plastics and to phase out disposable plastic containers and utensils over the next two years.
In order to help decide which area to focus on first, TCD trialled the use of a new social engagement platform, OneStepCloser, to poll the campus population on which plastic items to eliminate first.
Over seven days, a groundbreaking 3,791 members of the college community contributed to the poll. This represents over 17 per cent of the college community.
Students chose between Plastic cups in the buttery, plastic straws or plastic cutlery. The result determined that plastic cups would be prioritised.
However, due to the overwhelming response to the poll, all three issues will be tackled and phased out of use on campus by September 2018.
Similar efforts have been made by students at Dublin City University (DCU), mirroring Trinity’s race for a plastic free campus.
DCU was the first Irish university to commit to sustainable living by vowing to become plastic free by 2020.
This decision came about largely due to the campaigning efforts of the student-led Sustainable Living Society and was announced during the launch of Green Campus week in March this year.
Professor Brian MacCraith, President of DCU, explained how the university has committed to placing sustainability at the core of all its activities: “We have a global and a national plastics crisis and our young people are central to solving it through leading by example and helping to change collective behaviour.”
Ireland is the top producer of plastic waste according to the latest Eurostat figures. It is currently estimated that Ireland ranks at the top in plastic waste production in Europe, with 61kg of plastic waste per person each year.
Ireland’s increasing waste and plastic levels have reached emergency levels, following China’s ban on imported plastics that came into effect in January this year.