2017 will be the Zero FOOD Waste YEAR –
The year we finally get our FOOD WASTE TO ZERO.
Zero Waste Alliance are launching a big weapon in the war on Food Waste – a commercial Zero Food waste digester for Food catering and retailing establishments. We will follow later in the year with a Domestic unit suitable for Households. This is a timely intervention as price hikes for food waste collections will kick in and our landfills refuse to accept food waste (a long overdue implementation of EU directives in Ireland).
With Food Management techniques, aerobic on-site food waste digestion to energy, anaerobic digestion facilities or regular composters used, no more Food Waste needs to go to landfill. Battle over ! Whooppee.
Check out a Food Waste Digester in action here.
But remember that you can fight food waste by clever planning and avoiding waste in the first instance. No food waste means no big waste collection charges. Makes sense right. So pay attention and follow these simple steps to cut your food losses and your bills to zero.
How to Reach Zero Food Waste In Your Home
Don’t buy what you don’t need in the first place. Don’t buy quantities beyond your capacity to use before it goes stale. Special offers are tempting but you often buy more than you can consume in a short period and unless it is non-perishable, you can freeze it or store it safely it ends up in the waste bin. Make a shopping list, with quantities needed and stick to this list. Do not be diverted or tempted to add to it.
Once you’ve brought food home don’t let it rot there, unloved and uneaten before it’s use by date. How many times have you had to throw away that last apple or banana or the rest of that bagged salad mix because it ripened or degraded before your family could eat it? It went from shelf to bin and through your wallet. Just think of the money you wasted to buy food just to allow it to spoil and dump in the compost bin or garbage bin.
Here’s 3 ways to get a better outcome and make your home a zero food waster’s paradise.
1. Eat What You Buy – and only buy what you need for the short term.
It’s all about quantities. Work out just how many apples your family will eat in a week? How many meals will you plan next week using potatoes? That huge bag of tomatoes may be on sale, but can all those ripe tomatoes really be eaten before they go bad? What is your Tomato consumption rate in a week? Just buy that amount because any more is a false economy unless you freeze them. So buy only what your family can reasonably eat while it’s still fresh. What might have appeared to be a bargain basement price for a big quantity might end up in a basement garbage bin, leaving you with disposal costs. In your quest to reach the Zero Food Waste zone you must imagine that garbage bin being tiny.
2. Use Your Leftovers – or Freeze them.
Cook the amounts you will need for that meal only. But sometimes you need to cook for a few meals to save time later in the busy week. e.g. a roast, a large curry. Cooking in bulk makes sense if you plan well and know when it will be consumed. That’s fine but remember to freeze and seal stored future meals so they are fresh when defrosted. Food can be forgotten in that frozen cabinet so label them well with use by dates. With smaller amounts of leftovers store them in glass or see through plastic jars so you can plainly see the food. That way you either enjoy those leftovers for lunch the next day or turn them into a brand new meal and reduce waste at the same time. Call it your Zero Food Waste menu.
3. Portion controls anyone?
Very often we leave a large amount on our plates because our eyes were bigger than our stomachs. This happens a lot at buffet style meals. Rather serve smaller portions and repeat courses with extra helpings when the first ones are eaten. This applies especially to kids. This way uneaten food is still in the serving pot, uncontaminated by sauces and gravy etc. You can re-use next day or freeze for future use. Result –
less scrapings of mixed food waste. We’re getting close to Zero Food Waste now. Which leads us logically to the next situation.
Too late. It’s gone off ? What If It Goes Bad? – It can happen that you buy fresh produce and then it ripens quicker than you thought it would, or the kids leave a lot on their plate. Don’t throw it away. Scrape it into a compost bin or a Zero Food Waste digester if you have one. With a digester you get rich compost in about 24 hours, or about 6 months for an outside compost heap.
Bringing it all Home – The one time to not avoid waste.
There is one case where avoidance is what we do not want to do. This is when we should bring it home. If you enjoy a restaurant meal but are unable to finish the food served – a very common occurrence – ask for a doggy bag. Otherwise it goes into the restaurant food waste pile and gets wasted. The restaurant owner will thank you for reducing his pay-by- weigh food waste bin collection charge and you have a nice snack or lunch next day.
Bon appetit !
Zero Waste Lifestyle– What Does It Really Mean?
The Zero Waste lifestyle is becoming a more popular phrase But what does it really mean. It’s far more than just recycling your disposable plastic bottle. The Zero Waste lifestyle is about sending nothing to landfill or thermal treatment (aka Incineration). This does not mean that we do more recycling. In fact, the opposite happens. We recycle less because we find upstream ways to avoid having material to recycle in the first place.
The key to Zero Waste lifestyle is decisions!
Deciding to buy something or not. Deciding to Avoid, Refuse , Switch, Reuse and Reduce. It is a decision rich consumption lifestyle, evaluating the consequences for waste of each decision we make to acquire something. The real goal is to try to avoid landfill / incineration (the destruction of resources) and keep resources in circulation as long as possible in multiple useful life-cycles.
I may never reach ZW nirvana but I feel it is just over the horizon.
Making early choices.
As we consume resources in our daily lives (Food, products, services, stuff) the decisions made in the early part of the lifecycle have the biggest impacts. This applies to the design, manufacture and re-manufacture and support activities (maintenance) of manufacturers and the purchasing choices of consumers. In this decision making top-down approach recycling is a last resort: it is always better to avoid, refuse, reduce, re-use and repair before recycling anything. It is an iterative process because you must re-examine decisions all the time when faced with your residual waste. Simply ask how this waste is still remaining – and examine all the decisions made along the way that got you into this waste situation. Constant refinement of decisions with the end of pipe consequence in mind will ensure you progressive eliminate bad choices and reach as close as possible the Zero Waste nirvana.
I recycle all the time but I’m not at ZW nirvana just yet, It’s a journey and I’m on it, along with many other fellow travellers. ! So as a ‘ZeroWaster I’m always thinking about my residual waste, refining my earlier choices, and aspiring to do better next time. I may never reach ZW nirvana but I feel it is just over the horizon. I’m getting ever so close and I enjoy the company, support and advice of fellow travellers.
What does a Zero Waste lifestyle look like in normal life?
It’s all about doing something more and progressively trying to cut your waste. Zero Waste choices and informed decisions are your tools.
- SEEK LONGEVITY: It is about choosing the right durable products that are well-made and built to last, that can be repaired or re-manufactured, and won’t end up in landfill/incinerators once life-expired. The Manufacturer or Supplied should have a takeback/recycling programme in force. It may cost a little more at the time you buy but it will save you money in the longer term.
- SHUN DISPOSABLES: It is about choosing reusable products over single-use disposable items. There is a re-usable coffee cup in the photo below. Which one is it?
- FAVOUR OLD over NEW: Do you really need a new item. e.g. car? Look to second-hand over new where possible, and valuing resources already in circulation.
- SATISFY YOUR NEEDS not WANTS? Do you really need the item? Do you really need the amount on offer (e.g. special offers on food quantities than may not be right for you). You need to avoid temptations and impulse purchases and refuse anything not needed.
- EMBRACE SHOPPING LISTS : Your best ally in the fight to remain focused on what you are going to the supermarket to buy. What’s not on the list is not needed. Make the list at home before you set off. Check your larder/fridge etc for your actual needs and volumes required and stick to it.
- ASK QUESTIONS and QUESTION ANSWERS: It is about asking questions of the supplier and retailer to find out what they offer for recycling, maintenance and packaging recovery. How much recycled or re-manufactured content is in the product?
- EMBRACE RE-USE: Think of novel ways to re-use your stuff or components. Find new and better ways of doing things, re-using things and substituting for unsustainable products or processes.
- DOUBLE VISION: Think ahead. Before acquiring something think about how your relationship with it will end. Then decide the best option for a Zero Waste outcome at the end-of-useful-life point.
See more on Zero Waste lifestyle on our video page.
What does your Zero Waste lifestyle look like? Have you started your journey yet?
Take action on disposable coffee cups. Grab yourself an eCupán re-usable, collapsible coffee cup.
Photo Credits David East via Unsplash
The recent EPA report on the Quality of our Wastewater treatment in 2016 highlights that there’s a lot to be done. The EPA 2016 Wastewater Report’s Summary findings are stark. It’s embarrassing to contemplate! But challenges need to be faced and very soon.
Here’s a very brief summary of the top 5 urgent issues.
- 50 /185 of Ireland’s urban areas did not meet European Union (EU) standards.
- The final deadline to comply with these standards was 2005 (12 Years Ago).
- Ireland is being taken to the European Court of Justice for not treating wastewater properly.
- Raw sewage in wastewater is released into the environment from 44 urban areas.
- Improvements are needed at 148 urban areas to address the priorities listed in the report.
It is clear that we need significant capital investment to upgrade deficient wastewater treatment systems, improve water quality and avoid financial penalties.
Opportunity hidden in the wastewater.
While the scale of our ‘dirty water situation’ is great, there are opportunities open to mine our wastewater for nutrients. ZWAI have previously sent submissions on this topic and it is now very pertinent to look at our proposals again. There are benefits in acting in sync with the new capital investment programme that will be needed.
Unfortunately, Irish wastewater policy is focused solely on “treating wastewater” in an effort to minimise the detrimental effects of wastewater discharges on the aquatic environment.
Our view is that a better policy would be to place equal emphasis on wastewater “segregation” as well as on “the treatment of wastewater”. This would greatly facilitate “wastewater pollution avoidance”, “nutrient resource recovery”, more efficient use of water, and water recycling where appropriate.
Zero Waste Alliance Ireland calls for a very radical revision of the EPA Code of Practice and Part H of the Irish Building Regulations.
The world’s finite phosphate resources are limited and this limited resource will be unable to keep up with the world’s growing and increasing demand for phosphorous fertilizer over the coming decades.
In economics, for any amenity, product or service where there is a growing
shortage, prices will begin to rise. Since there is no alternative to phosphate as
a constituent of fertilizer we can only expect very serious price rises – resulting
in food shortages, and increased prices which hit the poor worst.
To soften the economic threat of rising phosphate prices, Ireland must be much more efficient in recycling phosphorous. It is of strategic importance that phosphorus should not be wasted, methods should be found to conserve and recycle it. If waste of phosphorus can be avoided, and phosphorus recycled as much as possible, this will be a “win-win” outcome, coinciding with our ZW policy of reducing and eliminating waste
Rationale of our ‘Dirty Water Mining’ proposals
- In nature, the waste products of every living organism serve as raw materials to be transformed by other living creatures, or benefit the planet in other ways; and human communities must follow this ecological principle as far as possible;
- “Zero Waste” is a realistic whole-system approach to addressing the problem of society’s unsustainable resource flows – and it applies equally to domestic wastewater and to solid wastes;
- Discarded materials and substances do not necessarily become “waste”, as long as there is a possibility of re-use, recycling or re-incorporation into the biosphere (e.g., by composting, anaerobic digestion or other biological transformations) without causing ecological or environmental damage; but these desirable processes become more difficult or even impossible when discarded substances or materials are mixed to form a combined “waste stream”;
- For most of humanity’s existence on this planet, our excreta served as nourishment for other animals, or were returned directly to the soil; providing valuable nutrients or fertiliser for agricultural or horticultural use;
- This practice carried a risk of spreading faecal-borne diseases but our current knowledge of microbiology can be applied to ensure that this risk is reduced to negligible proportions;
Septic tanks and Flushing.
- The widespread adoption of the relatively simple technology of the flush toilet throughout rural Ireland in the 20th century, and the building of large numbers of houses in unsewered areas, has led to a huge increase in the numbers of individual on-site wastewater treatment systems for domestic sewage and other wastewaters from houses and other buildings outside towns;
- The adverse environmental effects and public health risks associated with unsuitable location and inadequate maintenance of these single house wastewater treatment systems have been well documented by local authorities and by the EPA;
- These effects include surface water and groundwater pollution by faecal bacteria and sewage-derived nutrients; with consequential difficulties in complying fully with the Water Framework Directive
The principal response to this problem has been to develop a registration and inspection regime, carried out by local authorities under the supervision of the EPA, with the aim of bringing all single-house wastewater treatment systems under control, and preventing further pollution of groundwater and surface water;
Though satisfactory in other ways, this registration and inspection scheme does not consider wastewater as “waste” to be prevented, reused or recycled; and does not address the need to recover and re-use the valuable nutrients contained in domestic wastewater;
- separation of different types of wastewater produced in houses. i.e., “black water” (highly contaminated with faecal micro organisms), and “grey water” (discharge from bathing, showering, clothes washing, dish-washing and other similar uses); and,
- separation of urine from faeces, with urine being used as a source of nitrogen and phosphorus.
• In order to become truly sustainable in the long term, society must practice the re-use and recycling of wastewater to a much larger extent than is done at present; and source-separation of human urine is one promising technology which can be used to achieve this objective.
Source-separation of human urine has the added advantage of conserving and re-using phosphorus. It is not a new technology, and can be relatively easily installed, as shown by examples from Sweden and other countries.
Actions to take now.
- This objective may be best achieved by an amendment to Part H of the Building Regulations; and,
- A further step in the direction of resource conservation would be to encourage the more widespread adoption of modern composting toilets which do not require water for flushing.
We need your help and fast.
We’re tired of the slow progress towards real, verifiable Tyre recycling and re-manufacturing.
But your help will speed up progress with our lawmakers.
We need you to ‘kick some tyres’.
Here’s how to make a difference.
Remember the Minister for the Environment (and other things, such as Communications, & Climate Action ) Mr Denis Naughton planned to introduce a Producer Responsibility Initiative to attack the widespread illegal dumping of used tyres. Well, things are moving along (slowly as usual but at least rolling along in the right direction). The Joint Oireachtas Committee (JOC) on Communications , Climate Action and Environment are currently scrutinising the Waste Management (Tyres and Waste Tyres) Regulations 2017 (SI 400 of 2017).
These regulations are finally delivering on recommendations stemming from a report in 2013 which looked specifically at how the tyre industry was operating producer responsibility schemes. The report revealed inadequacies and found that:
- up to 50% of all used tyres were unaccounted for – i.e. LOST
- there was a significant rate of non-compliance with the previous regulations and
- there was a lack of consistent and accurate data on tyres.
The scale of the problem with waste tyres is now so bad that the Minister has made €1m available this year to the 23 local authorities who have reported illegal stockpiles of tyres dumped within their jurisdictions.
What do the new regulations do?
The regulations signed by the Minister enable the establishment of a full compliance scheme for tyre producers, distributors and retailers, which is financed by a visible Environmental Management Cost (vEMC). This new Tyre Tax will help plug the gaps and eliminate the 50% losses we currently experience, as tyres get illegally dumped or burned.
Similar compliance schemes have operated very successfully for other waste streams like packaging, waste electrical and electronic goods (WEE), batteries and farm plastics. The introduction of the vEMC charge will standardise and formalise a charge that tyre retailers already apply to purchases of new tyres by consumers. It will ensure that the fee they pay actually goes towards what it is supposed to support – the correct environmental treatment of waste tyres. Currently they charge consumers but do not deliver fully on the proper disposal of up to 50% of the used tyres. So the charges are pocketed by some unscrupulous operators as extra profits. We want this to end.
What Can you do to help?
The Dail Committee (JOC) are meeting again next Tues 24 October and they need to be aware of the level of concern we, the citizens who pay the costs, have about the scheme operating well.
It must eliminate the illegal dumping of tyres. It would be of particular benefit to the Committee if they could be given evidence of the scale of the problem with dumped tyres and the benefit to us all of a system that traces the movement of all tyres on and off the road.
But we’re aware that the tyre industry is trying to persuade the Dail Committee to block this regulation! Yes, it’s hard to believe but they seem to be winning. So we all need to get in a submission to assert our support for the new regulation ASAP.
How to submit your opinion.
So we want as many people as possible to contact their TD’s and those TDs and Senators on the Dail Committee (JOC). We want you to send in submissions tomorrow, Sunday or Monday at latest.
It could be as simple as welcoming the Regulations and referencing the success of the earlier examples below or just a plea to end the curse of illegal dumping and mention any personal experience you had with illegally dumped tyres.
Maybe send a photo or two. We have a template to help you below. Just take it and copy what you want and add a personal note. Then email it to the chosen targets. You can also cite references from the other PRI schemes listed below.
There are reference material and articles that you might find useful to make extra points but a very simple one-pager is all that is needed to alert the Committee members to the mood of their electorate.
There is Zero cost to doing it. Just send an email (click on the name to get the email address). We really appreciate your time and effort.
Who should you contact with your submission?
Please send your submissions to any or all of the following people :
- Vice Chairman: Deputy James Lawlessjames.email@example.com
- Clerk to the Joint Committee on Communications, Climate Action and Environment: Leo Bollins Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Committee Member Party / Group Deputies: Timmy Dooley Fianna Fáil James Lawless Fianna Fáil Michael Lowry Rural Independent Group Hildegarde Naughton Fine Gael Eamon Ryan Social Democrats – Green Party Group Bríd Smith Solidarity – People Before Profit Brian Stanley Sinn Féin Senators: Terry Leyden Fianna Fáil Tim Lombard Fine Gael Michael McDowell Independent Group Joe O’Reilly Fine Gael
SAMPLE TEXT ON WHICH TO BASE YOUR SUBMISSION.
Dear Mr/Ms /Deputy/Senator xxxxx,
REF: Waste Management (Tyres and Waste Tyres) Regulations 2017 (SI 400 of 2017).
I am alarmed and concerned to see that the rapid implementation of the Producer Responsibility Incentive (PRI) is not proceeding through the Oireachtas quickly. Similar schemes are now well established e.g. Repak Packaging Waste scheme was established on 10 June 1997, 20 years ago, WEE scheme exists since 5 July 2005. An effective recycling management scheme for used tyres is long overdue.
We have to make progress with used tyres as they offer new opportunities and jobs in recycling and remanufacturing activity e.g. crumb rubber makes playground surfaces, running track surfaces, road noise barriers and flexible concrete walls (http://www.ruconbar.com is a good example)
The waste of these recycled tyres in illegal dumping and burning activity is a complete failure with respect to today’s strive for a Circular Economy and the Government’s stated EU commitment to reduce our Nation’s contribution to Greenhouse Gases.
The legacy of non-recycled tyres littering our countrysides, waterways and seas should not be contemplated. Nor should we allow used tyres to be used as fuel for cement kilns, as recent An Bord Pleanala applications have sought to do.
So I urge you to proceed with all haste to bring the SI 400 of 2017 into effect.
It must be implemented thoroughly, quickly and transparently and the recycling monies collected used for environmental projects exclusively.
Name & address
When done, why not post your submission on the ZeroWasteAllianceIreland Facebook Page, so we can all clap your effort.
PRI Models used as basis for the new Tyres PRI
Farm Plastics: The PRI scheme for the recovery and recycling of farm plastics was established by Minister Dempsey on 14 July 1997. [FF-PD Govt]
Packaging/Repak: The PRI scheme to organise and finance the environmental management of packaging waste was established by Minister Howlin on 10 June 1997. [FG-Lab-DL Govt]
The regulations were consolidated, in order to bring improved clarity, transparency and accessibility to the packaging PRI, by Minister Gormley on 7 December 2007 [FF-GP-PD Govt]
WEEE Ireland: The PRI scheme to organise and finance the environmental management of household waste electrical and electronic equipment was established by Minister Roche on 5 July 2005. [FF-PD Govt]
Tyres: A scheme to track/collect data on tyres, but not fund or subsidise the collection and treatment of tyres, was approved by Minister Gormley on 27 September 2007. [FF-GP-PD Govt]
Batteries: The PRI scheme for the collection, treatment and recycling of waste batteries was implemented by Minister Gormley on 16 July 2008. [FF-GP Govt]
Other info/articles you can use in your email:
- Plastic from tyres ‘major source’ of ocean pollution
Farmer’s can move a little closer to Zero Waste in November thanks to the EPA’s efforts. Farms will be safer places afterwards.
During October and November, farmers across Ireland will have an opportunity to safely dispose of hazardous wastes from their farms at ten collection events organized nationally by the EPA and local authorities.
What kind of Wastes are accepted?
Typical wasted generated normal running of a farm, from engine oils & filters, batteries, to residues of pesticides and out-of-date veterinary medicines. Removal of these dangerous substances improves farm safety and cuts pollution risks associated with accidental spillages.
The quest for Zero Waste kicks off in Bandon, Co Cork today, 18th October and expect to see Farmers bringing along surplus agri-chemicals, medicines and other hard-to-manage wastes. Their actions help to maintain a safer rural environment and Ireland’s green image.
How much does it cost?
Some waste is free of charge to dispose of such as electrical equipment, batteries, waste motor oils and hydraulic oils, other types range in price from €2-4 per kilogram (such as empty plastic and metal containers). Collected waste is then forwarded to registered handlers and recyclers for treatment or safe disposal.
Farmers should segregate and package their wastes to avoid leaks during transport. They should load their wastes so that they can be off-loaded at the 4 main operational areas at each centre. These are Oils, WEEE & Batteries, Containers and Haz Waste.
Watch a video about it.
The clean-up campaign started four years ago and is unique in commanding a high level of cross-departmental support. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) works with a cross-government team that includes Teagasc; the Department of Agriculture, Food & Marine; the Department of Communications, Climate Action & Environment and local authorities. There is a strong demand from farmers for the service and the scheme shows what can be achieved with the commitment of a wide range of engaged partners focused on one aim.
ZWAI supports this scheme and asks if it could be extended to all rural dwellers, not just Farmers, and more often than once a year, because our environment and safety are everyone’s concern.
We encourage all farmers to bring their farm hazardous wastes to one of the ten locations listed below, where it will be collected and processed in a safe and environmentally sound manner. These collection days provide an opportunity for farmers to dispose of materials that may be harmful to humans and animals, and also to ensure compliance with DAFM Cross Compliance and Bord Bia Inspections. In addition, the scheme assists farmers in complying with legislation & quality assurance schemes, and also supports the ambitions of strategies such as the National Hazardous Waste Management Plan and Food Wise 2025.
Find out more about the 2017 Farm Hazardous Waste collections on the EPA website.
Collection centres will open from 9:30 am to 3:30 pm at each venue. The location and dates for this year’s farm hazardous waste collections are as follows:
Dates Location 18th October Bandon Recycling Centre, Co. Cork 25th October Nenagh Mart, Co Tipperary 27th October Enniscorthy Mart, Co Wexford 4th November Listowel Mart, Co. Kerry 8th November Kilkenny Mart, Co Kilkenny 14th November Cahir Mart, Co. Tipperary 17th November Mayo-Sligo Co-operative, Ballina, Co Mayo 21st November Tullamore Mart, Co. Offaly 24th November Athenry Mart, Co. Galway 28th November Kells Recycling Centre, Co Meath