Plastic is used to make bags, bottles and other products but its impact on the environment has never been as severe as it is in Ireland.
We are one of the most recyclable countries in Europe.
In 2017, the Irish Government allocated €2.3 million towards a programme to recycle and reuse the plastic bottles and bags we use.
It was the biggest plastic recycling project ever undertaken by the Irish government.
The Irish Department of Agriculture says it is the most effective way to help the environment.
But how much can you do?
We asked our experts to assess the recycling scheme and what is actually being done.
What is Ireland’s recycling programme?
A report released in 2018 found Ireland’s population of just under 40 million has an annual plastic pollution level of around 7.8 million tonnes of plastic.
This equates to around 5% of our total annual rubbish output.
The country produces around 5 million tonnes each year of waste from its households and businesses.
But what is the recycling programme actually doing?
The Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) estimates Ireland’s annual waste production from households and small businesses is around 3.8 tonnes of waste per person.
That means the amount of plastic we use each year is around 2,000 tonnes.
Of that, we recycle and recycle in our own homes, schools and parks.
However, the majority of that plastic is being thrown away or incinerated.
Ireland has been one of Europe’s leading recyclers of plastics.
In 2018, Ireland’s waste production was estimated to be around 1.8% of its total annual waste output.
It is estimated that about 70% of that waste is going to be recycled or recycled through other means.
However that’s only about 25% of what is being recycled.
This waste is then passed on to the environment, where it can be further utilised.
There are three main types of plastic waste: micro-particles (used in packaging), small particles (used for food packaging) and the larger particles that can be recycled in small, lightweight packaging.
In Ireland, these smaller particles can be reused and reused again.
They are also known as micro-samples.
What happens when you use your recycling bins?
Plastic containers have an impact on land and sea.
Micro-particle and micro-spill are two types of pollution that are most likely to be emitted from the plastic bins.
Microspill is produced when a micro-organism, such as bacteria or fungi, grows on a plastic bag.
In addition, micro-pollutants can be released from the micro-container by the plastic, which can pollute nearby land and the sea.
Small particles are produced by the chemical reactions that occur when a plastic is processed into various plastics.
The smallest particle of a plastic container has a diameter of 1 millimetre and the largest particle of an unprocessed plastic has a mass of 1 gram.
What do we do with all this plastic?
Plastic can be mixed into plastic packaging, which is used in the production of other plastics.
Plastic pellets are used to fill the plastic bags used to ship goods across the Atlantic Ocean.
Plastic also is used for making food packaging.
Where are all the plastic recycling bins located?
Each of the country’s seven recycling bins is located in a different place.
These include: a primary recycling bin at a primary school, a secondary recycling bin in a school, an agricultural recycling bin near a supermarket and a recycling bin used to dispose of plastic bags at the recycling centre.
How does this compare to other countries?
Ireland has one of only a few countries in the world where plastic recycling is completely voluntary.
It has been estimated that the total waste generated by households and firms is equivalent to almost one third of all the waste produced in the EU.
This is a huge reduction from the levels we saw in the 1970s and 80s when the European Union was a member state.
The recycling scheme was established to help reduce waste from waste production.
However this also means it has also been linked to the growth of plastics in Ireland, the introduction of plastic packaging in supermarkets and the use of plastic as a building material.
The most common way to dispose