Kilkenny City not surprisingly generates the highest volume of single-use plastic waste at 1,620 tonnes annually, with Callan in Thomastown coming in joint second
A study into the volumes of single-use plastic packaging waste generated across County Kilkenny each year has identified hotspots, in terms of volumes, that if given priority would see significant reductions in the amount of single-use plastic waste generated in the county every year.
Householders in county Kilkenny generate a combined 6,000 tonnes of single-use plastic packaging waste annually. To put this in perspective - if this 6,000 tonnes of plastic waste were in the form of just 500ml empty single-use plastic drinks bottles for example, it would be equivalent to 400 million empty bottles. That’s enough empty plastic bottles to fill 13 Olympic swimming pools.
CUSP (Cease Using Single-Use P lastic) was established in 2018 to develop solutions to the burgeoning single-use plastic waste crises.
"Our research identified a degree of ambivalence amongst consumers towards the issue of single-use plastic packaging waste’ according to CUSP founder Simon Ruddy.
"It’s not that people don’t care, but is more down to the way the numbers are reported, which is usually in the ‘millions of tonnes’. This leaves people wondering what’s the point… my small contribution to tackling single-use plastic waste is hardly going to make any real difference."
CUSP takes the big global numbers on single-use plastic waste, the ‘millions of tonnes’ we read about frequently and distils-down these number into bite-sizes reduction targets community groups, individuals and householders can more easily relate to; all delivered via CUSP’s user-friendly, free mobile app.
Kilkenny City not surprisingly generates the highest volume of single-use plastic waste at 1,620 tonnes annually, with Callan in Thomastown coming in joint second at 150 tonnes each. All other towns and villages generate less than 100 tonnes annually.
The table provided lists volumes for nine Kilkenny towns, which cumulatively accounts for 40% of Kilkenny’s 6,000 tonne annual single-use plastic waste pile. Also listed are reduction targets aligned to the key UN sustainability goal for the elimination of all non-essential single-use plastic packaging by 2030, estimated at 70% of current global consumption.
To achieve 70% reductions by 2030 Kilkenny would need to reduce single-use plastic waste from its current 6,000 tonnes annually to 1,800 tonnes annually by 2030, requiring an annual reduction of 420 tonnes. To achieve this each household in county Kilkenny would need to reduce by 12kgs annually, from a current annual average of 171kgs per household.
That’s just 1kg monthly! 1kg is equivalent to 18 empty 2ltr single-use plastic drinks bottles for example.
The CUSP app takes care of all calculations and conversion-to-kilograms. Participants simply tap-in their estimated number-of-units day 1, for 22 of the more common items of single-use plastic packaging listed in the app; then, after 30 days and following CUSP ‘hints and tips for reducing’, users tap-in their new reduced volumes to see if they’ve hit their monthly 1kg reduction target.
200 households participated in our pilot launch during March and February 2020, achieving average monthly reductions of 2.5kgs. With reductions of just 1kg monthly required to hit UN 2030 sustainability goals, hitting these targets now seems very achievable!
With growing concerns about the impact of single-use plastic waste on our oceans, marine life and more recently, the potential health effects due to micro plastics entering the human food chain, we can no longer wait for legislators to solve the problem. We each need to take action in our own homes to defeat this environmental scourge.
The CUSP app is available to download free – search ‘CUSP: Single-Use Plastic Calc’ (iOS & android)
"Ultimately it is only when we as consumers start leaving products behind us on supermarket shelves when not happy with the amount of plastic used to package those products will true change take effect. Nothing will drive big brand manufacturers to switch to more sustainable forms of packaging faster than falling market share."