SIPTU has called on the government to take real action to solve the waste management crisis in Ireland rather than mere token gestures such as the announcement today (Friday, 4th January) that single-use plastic cups, cutlery and straws will not be purchased for use in government offices. SIPTU Public Administration and Community Division Organiser, Adrian Kane, said: “The  announcement by the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and the Environment, Richard Bruton, that government departments will cease the purchase of single-use plastic items is tokenistic in the extreme. “Minister Bruton has made this gesture while his Department continues to fail to address the crisis this country is experiencing in waste management due to its persistence with a fundamentalist free-market approach to waste collection. “A recent report by the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) into the operation of the domestic waste collection market revealed that 23% of households have no service at all. This situation is the key driver of the growing problem of illegal waste dumping in this country.  “The other major finding of the CCPC report is that Ireland is now the only country in the EU which permits side-by-side competition in domestic waste collection. This leads to multiple providers blocking up the streets of our towns and cities every morning and increasing carbon emissions exponentially at a time when Ireland is failing miserably to meet its carbon emission reduction targets.” He added: “A comprehensive and sustainable approach to waste management must be developed. Side-by-side competition must cease as a matter of urgency in the domestic waste collection sector. The State, through local authorities, must re-enter the domestic waste collection market and finally a nation-wide waiver system must be developed for households who can’t afford to pay. “The State is spending a fortune on cleaning up illegal dumping. It also has to supplement poor wages for workers in the waste industry and enforce regulations in a sector where companies continually attempt to flout them. It would be far cheaper for the State to provide a value for money service for households rather than cleaning up after market failure.”