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Frequently Asked Questions


Why have these measures been introduced?

These measures are designed to counteract the detrimental effect of excessive plastic on the planet and to use the public sector's leadership role to inspire change amongst others. It pre-empts a legislative proposal, which is nearing agreement at EU level. The EU is currently finalising legislation which will oblige all member states to take a number of measures, including:

1. Ban certain plastic products from the market (including cutlery, plates and straws),

2. Significantly reduce the use of plastic food containers and cups and

3. Make producers of certain products containing plastic and fishing gear cover the costs of waste management and clean up The EU proposal can be viewed at this link:


We use disposable drinks containers at our water coolers and in our canteen, what are the alternatives?

In the first instance, staff should be encouraged to use re-useable drinks containers. Some Departments have provided 'on-the-go' cups and bottles for their staff to encourage a change in behaviour but this is not absolutely necessary.

Ensure sufficient crockery is provided in the canteen and for meeting rooms. To encourage use of reusable drinks containers, catering facilities may wish to offer a discount to those staff members who use their own. The Conscious Cup Campaign has ideas and tips to offer on this approach.

When arranging catering from outside contractors or at external events run by the Department, it is important to ensure that they are advised about the new policy on single use plastics and can offer alternatives when quoting for catering of events.

Compostable single use drinks containers can be purchased through the OGP Catering and Consumables Framework; however these are more expensive and enjoy only marginal environmental advantage over disposables. These containers can be properly treated in industrial composting facilities only and therefore require appropriate disposal i.e. to be placed in a 'composting/brown bin' for commercial composting. Compostable products are not suitable for recycling and must not be placed in the recycling bin.

Where compostable cups are provided by in-house catering, it is recommended that (i) an additional charge for the cup is levied (advertising this to users clearly), (ii) brown/compost bins are available in the building and (iii) signage explains the cup must be disposed of in the 'composting/brown bin'.


What is a resource efficiency action plan?

A Resource Efficiency Action Plan is the output of an on-site assessment or audit of how an organisation uses its energy, water and waste resources. Expert assessors look at in-house waste production and management, waste prevention opportunities, energy bills and charges, opportunities for heat recovery, optimisation of equipment use, lighting efficiency, water efficiency as well as awareness of management and staff.

The audit report contains a number of detailed recommendations which should form the basis for the Resource Efficiency Action Plan. The report should also provide information about the estimated cost of action, estimated annual savings and an estimated payback time on changes recommended.

All action plans must be aligned with the existing energy efficiency action plans in each Department as part of the Public Sector Energy Efficiency Strategy.


What is Green/Sustainable Public Procurement?

Green Public Procurement (GPP) is a process where public authorities seek to source goods, services or works with a reduced environmental impact. When drafting tenders for the supply of goods, services or works procurement staff should be aware of the environmental impact across the full lifecycle of their purchasing requirements. All new tenders should incorporate green/sustainable award criteria into the tendering process.


Further Support

  • Further web resources will be added to the DCCAE website as they are developed. 
  • An email helpdesk is available to provide further support to Departments' Facilities Staff charged with implementing this decision –
  • A workshop for Facilities Staff is planned to take place in early February to provide further support to Departments in making the changes introduced by the Government.
  • Departments that have a number of public bodies under their aegis are likely to require particular support in disseminating information about these changes. Further supports will be available to these departments and will be considered at the February workshop.