Inspired by LAUDATO SI’ Encyclical Letter written by POPE FRANCIS



Going Green – Single Use Plastics (SUP)  ‘An Endemic Scourge’


Pope Francis addresses the issue of an Integral Ecology

“Nature cannot be regarded as something separate from ourselves or as a mere setting in which we live. We are part of nature, included in it and thus in constant interaction with it. Recognising the reasons why a given area is polluted requires a study of the workings of society, its economy, its behaviour patterns, and the ways it grasps reality.” (LS139)


The Evidence

The EPA (2021)

  • We need to rethink how we make, transport and use products.
  • Reducing unnecessary packaging and maximising reuse and recycling are key.
  • Ireland generated over 1.1 million tonnes of packaging waste in 2019, an increase of 11% on 2018.
  • Although Ireland has consistently met and exceeded all packaging targets, EU statistics highlight that Ireland appears to generate more plastic packaging per capita than all other member states, resulting in 229 kilos of waste generated per person in Ireland.
  • Findings show that two-thirds of plastic packaging is not on the current recycling list.


Can we alter our way of life or is this just another issue?

The answer is yes, we can!

The solution! – a circular economy system to replace our current take, make, use and dispose system:

How do we achieve this?

  • By using less raw materials, designing sustainable and non-toxic products for long-life and recyclability.
  • Sharing products for use, using them longer, reusing and repairing things before we recycle and throw them away. A circular economy approach reduces the quantity of waste generated.


What is the Vatican Doing?

The Vatican City State will no longer sell any single-use plastic items.  It has already begun limiting its use and when previously stocked items are gone, single-use plastic will no longer be sold.  Recycling programs and equipment together with a change in mentality has made this a reality. “We cannot allow our seas and oceans to be littered by endless fields of floating plastic” Pope Francis (September 2018)


What is the Government Doing?

  • A Single Use Plastics ban on the Irish market was put in place on 3rd July 2021 under EU Directive. Items include cotton bud sticks, cutlery, plates, stirrers, chopsticks, straws, polystyrene containers and oxo-degradable plastic produce.
  • The aim is to significantly reduce single use plastics (SUP) being placed on the market by 2026.
  • All packaging will be reusable or recyclable by 2030.
  • Ireland’s National Waste Policy 2020-2025 on SUP aims to deal with the items which represent in excess of 70% of marine litter.
  • Producers of plastic will be required to cover the cost of litter clean up associated with the following SUP items: food containers, packets, wrappers, beverage container cups and light weight carrier bags.
  • Further banning will be imposed upon wet wipes (non-medical), SUP hotel toiletries and sugar and condiment items.


What can you do?

 “Each of us has to be responsible for others and for the future of our planet.” Pope Francis (September 2018)

  •  Set up a green team in your parish and implement an action plan to tackle Single Use Plastic.
  •  Make a conscious choice! – 22,000 coffee cups are disposed of in Ireland every hour. This is equivalent to a rate of six per second and 200 million annually.  Reusable alternatives already exist for take-away coffee cups. For participating café in your local area, search
  • Shop wisely! – Some facial scrubs / shower gels and other personal care products contain non-biodegradable tiny plastic beads which when used are washed down the drain where they enter rivers, lakes, seas and oceans. Marine life eat these microplastics. 90% of all marine life have ingested some form of plastic in their lifetime.  There are a variety of apps available online where you can find out which cosmetic and personal care products contain microplastics.

Making environmentally responsible consumer choices have positive benefits both locally and globally.


Related links: