Northern Ireland Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots has declared war on plastic pollution, announcing not one, but two initiatives to reduce its impact on the environment.

Today (June 30), Minister Poots launched a Call for Evidence on a plan to eliminate plastic pollution in Northern Ireland alongside a new £175,000 grants scheme to tackle marine litter.

The Call for Evidence will seek views on the challenges and opportunities that exist in eliminating plastic pollution, as well as seeking examples of best practices and sources of expertise and evidence.

Plastic pollution grant scheme

In addition to this, the new grants scheme will work alongside organisations and groups.

The aim of the scheme is to help prevent marine litter from entering our environment, as well as removing this litter from coastal and riverine areas.

It is hoped the scheme will run for a further three years with up to £675,000 available by 2025. It will be funded by DAERA and administered by Live Here Love Here.

Minister Poots said: “Plastic pollution is a scourge on our environment and has become one of our most pressing environmental challenges.

“I believe we need to take strong action and address the throwaway culture that exists around plastic and the pollution that comes from this.”

“The New Decade, New Approach agreement contains a commitment by the Executive to develop a plan to eliminate plastic pollution and this Call for Evidence and subsequent development of my Department’s plan will deliver on this commitment.

“This will assist Northern Ireland’s contribution to the UK’s net-zero target and will help the shift to a circular economy by keeping plastic in the economy and out of the environment.”

Ian Humphreys, chief executive of Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful, added: “The pernicious effects of litter, particularly plastics, on marine animals is now well understood.

“With plastics moving up through the marine food chain the consequences for us may end up equally harmful.

“…I would encourage all eligible organisations to make use of this fantastic opportunity to help people do the right thing and put litter in a bin.”

The public Call for Evidence opens will run for a 14-week period until October 1, 2021.