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circular economy

New national plan to manage and prevent waste in Ireland to be launched today

The plan sets out an ambitious target of 0% waste growth per person over the next six years.

A NEW PLAN which aims to stop waste growth in Ireland over the next six years is being launched today. 

The country’s first National Waste Management Plan for a Circular Economy provides a new framework for the prevention and management of waste from 2024 to 2030.

The plan, which is due to be adopted by local government, outlines a roadmap to a more circular economy, including increased waste prevention, more recycling, and improved reuse and repair practices.

It replaces the existing Regional Waste Management Plans, and will be managed by the three Regional Waste Management Planning Lead Authorities on behalf of the local government sector. 

The plan warns that Ireland’s current waste generation rates are unsustainable and have a direct impact on our climate and the use of raw materials.

Ireland currently generates around 3.2 million tonnes of municipal waste per year. This is equivalent to 644kg per person, far higher than the European average of 527kg per person.

The plan sets out an ambitious target of 0% waste growth per person over the next six years.

“We’re trying to put a lid on the amount of waste that every person in Ireland produces over the lifetime of the plan,” Kevin Swift, the regional waste coordinator for Connacht Ulster, told The Journal

“If we can achieve that, that’s a net reduction in the amount of waste that we produce of 7%. That’s a lot of waste. It equates roughly to about 300,000 tonnes.”

Swift said that the plan has been through two consultation processes and is “very much built on the feedback” received from the public and key stakeholders.

The private waste sector in Ireland is valued at more than €1.4 billion and provides employment for approximately 10,000 people. Local authority expenditure on waste functions exceeds €280 million each year and involves over 1,700 people.

The plan highlights how this transition to a circular economy will require an additional minimum investment of €40 million by the State to achieve the outcomes over its lifetime.

Swift said that circularity is “embedded” in the plan.

“That’s all about keeping materials in use for longer, being less of a throwaway society and preventing the amount of waste that we produce.”

The plan sets out a range of targets around reducing the amount of waste that goes into the black bin and increasing the amount of waste that is recycled, as well as a target of 20 kgs per person per annum for the reuse of materials.

Swift said the plan will focus particularly on the commercial sector. 

“While a lot of attention has been paid to households over the last decade or two, the commercial sector has a bit of a catch up to do in terms of the amount of waste that it produces and how it manages its waste,” he said.

“We’re going to work very closely with the commercial sector to ensure that they’re segregating their waste appropriately, and to ensure that they’re doing the right things to prevent waste as well.”

Waste regulations introduced last year now require waste collection companies to provide a black bin, green bin and a bio-waste bin to all of their commercial customers. 

The plan also places an emphasis on the construction and demolition sector and identifies 16 focus areas with 85 priority actions.

While 753,00 tonnes of food waste is currently generated in Ireland annually, the plan aims to halve this number by 2030.

Separately, an estimated 170,000 tonnes of textile waste is generated in Ireland per year. This equates to 35kg per person per year – or three and a half carry on airline bags.

Swift said the plan identifies textiles as a key area for attention.

“In our studies of the content of household bins or even commercial bins, there’s a lot of textile waste in those bins that shouldn’t be there,” he said.

“There are a number of initiatives in the plan around targeting textile waste and working with industry and working with retailers to ensure that that can be reduced over the lifetime of the plan.”

The National Waste Management Plan for a Circular Economy 2024-2030 can be read here.

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