27 Apr

Green Alley Award 2017

Green Alley Award 2017, is it for you?

Want to make a difference in the world of the Circular Economy?

Well maybe this competition is right up your alley!

Are you a green start-up or eco-entrepreneur with a brilliant idea in the green and circular economy sector? Then apply now for the Green Alley Award 2017 and become one of Europe’s leading sustainable start-ups!

Start-ups can submit applications at www.green-alley-award.com until 25 July, 2017.

Last year nearly 200 applications from more than 50 countries took part. This year will be even bigger, so get your ideas ready and apply now. Why waste time?

So, exactly what is The Green Alley Award?

It’s Europe’s first start-up competition focused on the circular economy. In the Circular Economy nothing is wasted. Everything is viewed as a resource for further use or re-use. New skills, new technologies and processes are emerging to support a re-designed Product lifecycle and opportunities are abundant. Creativity is the limit of our ambition to circularise our current linear lifestyle. So competitions like the Green Alley act as catalysts in exposing new ideas.

It’s got some serious backers, like core partners Landbell, Seedmatch, ERP Finland, Bethnal Green Ventures, H2 Compliance and R2PI. Green Alley is looking for great green ideas, new services, products and technologies that can turn today’s waste into a re-useable and re-workable resource. In return, we offer strategic support, networking opportunities and expertise in entering the circular economy across Europe.

What are we looking for?

We are looking for entrepreneurs, innovators and start-ups dedicated to new developments in the waste management sector and the green economy. They should be as passionate as we about finding new processes and ways to help the environment while also providing a benefit to companies and consumers.

Business ideas can encompass resource conservation and sustainability, material recovery and reuse, recycling and upcycling, recycling management and CO2 savings – the more innovative the idea, the more can be achieved and built together.

We support these ideas and promote young entrepreneurs, who want to grow with their idea but have not yet been heard and supported.

What do you need to do?

Just 2 simple steps really.

  1. fill out a short start-up profile: please give us the most important facts about you and your start-up
  2. send your pitch deck, introducing your business idea in a more detailed manner

Before you rush in have a look at the application guidelines Green Alley Award 2017 before you continue; it will help you to really convince us! Preparation pays off.

Any questions or problems? Contact us: award@green-alley.com.

About the Green Alley Award

The Green Alley Award is given once a year to entrepreneurs and start-ups of the circular economy, organised by a network of partners in the Circular Economy and European entrepreneurial scene. Green Alley, the initiator, has been working with Seedmatch, Germany’s crowdfunding pioneer, since 2014. Additional partners include the London accelerator Bethnal Green Ventures for technology driven start-ups in environmental and social areas as well as the European Recycling Platform (ERP) Finland, a recycling supplier for electrical and electronic equipment and batteries. This year’s lead partners are H2 Compliance, a global REACH service provider offering full regulatory support as well as R2PI, a Horizon 2020 project.

14 Apr

Ireland’s Greenhouse Gas emissions projected to increase strongly.

2020 targets slip

Photo courtesy veeterzy.com

Blow to our Climate change fight as Greenhouse gas emissions projected to increase strongly.

According to the EPA, Ireland is unlikely to meet our 2020 EU greenhouse gas emissions targets.

They identify sectors under pressure such as agriculture, transport, residential, commercial, non-energy intensive industry and waste sectors.

What’s our target?

Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions reduction target is to be below 20% of our  2005 levels by 2020.

How are we doing?

Well, not so good say the EPA, the Government body tasked with monitoring our progress. They indicate that our emissions will be only 4 – 6% below 2005 levels by 2020.  That’s an epic FAIL. They also say why.  It’s due to the policies we’ve followed to date and in particular lack of action to engineer a reversal of rising levels.  Simply put, our current policies and measures are not enough to meet the  EU 2020 targets, with emissions projected to continue to increase out to 2030 and beyond.

They also say why.  It’s due to the policies we’ve followed to date and in particular lack of action to engineer a reversal of rising levels.  Simply put, our current policies and measures are not enough to meet the  EU 2020 targets, with emissions projected to continue to increase out to 2030 and beyond.

If Ireland was a Soccer premiership team we would be heading for the Emissions relegation zone based on our dismal results.

How can we fix this ?

The latest disappointing results demonstrate the need for radical new and innovative actions to meet the challenges that we face in making the move to a low carbon economy.
Ireland’s EU target for 2020 is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the non-Emissions Trading Scheme (non-ETS) sector by 20 per cent on 2005 levels. The non-ETS sector covers emissions from agriculture, transport, residential, commercial, non-energy intensive industry and waste sectors.

The latest projections show that:

  • Ireland’s non-ETS sector emissions are projected to be 4- 6 percent below 2005 levels by 2020, compared to the 2020 target of 20 percent below 2005 levels;
  • Thanks to the recession in the early years of the period (2013-2020) we beat our reduction targets but that credit has been used up and will not be enough to allow Ireland to cumulatively meet its compliance obligations.  EWe will exceed our annual obligation targets from 2016 onwards.
  • Our lethargy on energy efficiency and renewable energy progress further adds to the uphill challenge that the State faces.
  • Based on current Govt policy we will see increased emissions from the agriculture and transport sectors. This will be approx 74 per cent of Ireland’s non-ETS sector emissions in 2020.

For the period 2015-2020, agriculture emissions are projected to increase by 4 – 5 per cent. Transport emissions pitch in with a 10 – 12 per cent increase on 2015 levels.

Beyond 2020.

New EU obligations for Ireland to reduce greenhouse gas emissions for the decade after 2020 will be agreed at EU level during 2017.  So , the further away Ireland is from the 20 per cent reduction target in 2020, the bigger will be the compliance challenges in the following decade. We face a period of drastic action coming close to 2020 as the Government will be under growing pressure to avoid looming fines.

The numbers

An overview of total projected emissions by sectors (which include ETS and non-ETS emissions) under the With Additional Measures is presented in Table 1 below.

Table 1. Projected greenhouse gas emissions to 2030 under the With Additional Measures Scenario

Mt CO2 eq 2016 2020 2025 2030 Growth 2016-2030
Energy Industries 11.44 8.707 9.561 10.491 -8.30%
Residential 5.94 6.061 6.189 6.097 2.64%
Manufacturing Combustion 4.407 5.154 5.234 5.402 22.58%
Commercial and Public Services 1.957 1.592 1.744 1.824 -6.80%
Transport 13.018 13.072 14.839 14.702 12.94%
Industrial Processes 2.063 2.329 2.677 3 45.42%
F-Gases 0.991 0.916 0.836 0.722 -27.14%
Agriculture 20.019 20.643 20.646 20.156 0.68%
Waste 0.885 0.623 0.547 0.5 -43.50%
Total 60.72 59.096 62.273 62.892 3.58%

Talk was cheap- Greenhouse Gas emissions are not.

We are guilty of overpromising. (remember our Foreign aid promises?) This might be par for the course in electioneering mode but when it comes to international obligations we must deliver. A fact that is now starkly obvious to our dithering current Government.
Ireland has a national policy position that commits us to reducing our carbon emissions by at least 80% compared to 1990 levels by 2050 across the electricity generation, built environment and transport sectors while achieving carbon neutrality in the agriculture and land use sectors.
If we are to realise this policy position and our aspirations to transition to a low carbon economy, then any new measures to be included in the upcoming and future National Mitigation plans need to be innovative and effective to get Irelands emissions back on a sustainable trajectory. This will take planning, investment and time. Our Governments  don’t excel at the former and have little of either of the latter. It looks bleak!

Incineration dilemma

A major contributor to GHG , NOx and SOx emissions is from large commercial incinerators. There’s also RDF and Peat burning power stations. The projection of future drops in volumes from the Waste sector, in the EPA table 1 above looks suspect, as the monster 600,000 tonne Covanta Incinerator in Dublin (it will begin to accept waste in September 2017) will add significantly to the overall load already coming from Indaver’s 200,000 tonne burner in Carranstown, Co. Meath. No doubt the EPA  will grant a Licence to the 2nd Indaver Burner slated for Ringaskiddy in Cork Harbour (currently before an Bord Pleanala). They did so on previous applications. So it is ironic that the EPA highlights our lack of progress in reducing  GHG emissions but will stand by and allow the Waste sector to contribute increased  GHG loads in the future. The lack of joined up thinking here is yet another explanation of the mess we are increasingly discovering about our Government policy and practice.

A ban on any new WasteTo Energy Incinerators will have immediate positive impact on cutting GHG emissions and focus our activities on Circular Economy compliant waste solutions, which will further benefit our economy.

Soccer teams in trouble and destined for relegation generally fire their manager. Unless results improve, maybe that’s an option for us too?

Our relegation will also mean massive EU fines, that’s our tax money gone to Europe and not available to us for our Country’s urgent needs. Ouch !

Fines or investment dilemma.

Might it be more rewarding to borrow the funds (at current very low interest rates)  to invest in accelerated  Electric transport infrastructure, Green Energy production incentives (solar farms, wind energy parks, micro generation), phase out of Peat Burning plants,   accelerate Energy efficiency incentives (commercial and domestic), initiate serious deep retrofit activity, create a national High Speed Train System to get traffic reduced and run education programmes to change our mindset on energy use and emissions. The interest on these loans will still cost much less than the EU fines and we will have assets to show for our efforts.


12 Apr

Environ Conference Token reference to Circular Economy


Minister Denis Naughten TD,  addressed the attendees at Environ 2017, AIT Athlone, today April 10th 2017. The Circular Economy was not high on his list of priorities.

In his rambling speech he offered just a single reference to the Circular Economy.  We re-publish his words below ….

Circular economy section of his speech.

”Responding to Climate Change is only one element of this government’s commitment to the concept of a sustainable economy. As I’ve already mentioned, managing our resources in a way that protects and preserves our environment is essential, and it can also save costs for businesses and consumers.The concept of a Circular Economy is now globally recognised.  It proposes the possibility to live well and prosper if we move away from the traditional model of ‘take-make-dispose’ and instead embrace waste as a resource; a resource to be reused, re-made and re-imagined.

By reusing items and materials, we can support local training and jobs in repair, refurbishment and retail.  We reduce the costs of waste collection and disposal and we reduce the need to import more costly fuels and materials.

But currently, we discard 4 out of every 5 items that we produce after one use and we recycle only 1 g out of every 100 of the valuable rare earth metals that we use in products.

That is why I am focusing on a number of practical actions related to resource efficiency and the Circular Economy.

For example, I am addressing the scourge of illegal dumping which I see as environmental and economic treason.  I recently announced an anti-dumping initiative to provide financial support to community groups and to equip local authority officers with the tools required to effectively pursue and charge those responsible for illegally dumping including the use of drone technology.  I am pleased to say that already the scheme has been oversubscribed so I intend to increase the funding available for this initiative.

I have also made the problem of food waste a priority for my Department. By tackling food waste we can address food poverty, sustainable consumption of food and reduce landfill.  We have set about tackling food waste from three strategic positions – production, retail and at home.
I set up the Retail Action Group chaired by retail expert Eamonn Quinn which brings together the main supermarkets in an effort to come up with new solutions from the retail perspective and an awareness campaign is underway targeting householders.”

While his aspirations are very laudable and the Government’s belated conversion to Circular Economy (CE) and Zero Waste thinking is very welcome, there is a paucity of ambition, real action and concrete projects on the ground to change our consumption patterns. This Government has not yet fully implemented and enforced the EU Landfill Directive and imposed separate Food Waste collection on a national scale. They are pulling back from imposing real cost recovery charges on Food Waste collection due to popular anger against increased collection charges.

His intervention to date and what is planned is merely superficial window dressing. Policing illegal dumping should be a norm everywhere, not a special initiative. We expect normal enforcement to de done as routine. If the government, EPA, Co Council staff  etc were doing their jobs they would not need community volunteers involved.

Having a bunch of retail consultants and entrepreneurs discuss food retail changes in isolation is missing the point of a connected circular economy. It addressed the tail end of the pipe (distribution and sale), similar to the old school linear model of consumption.

The depth of changes needed here should reflect the Food Waste hierarchy. Actions at higher levels make the biggest difference and this applies to all Waste issues.


More fundamental and holistic action is needed to address the designer/developer/creator, producer, distributor and consumer mindset that has delivered such a wasteful environment from ‘field to fork’ and back and it extends way beyond food waste.

Zero Waste Alliance Ireland (ZWAI) is actively engaged with Food Waste elimination projects and collaborates with Equipment suppliers to offer Aerobic Food Waste Digestion solutions.  The biggest issue is at the higher level- consumption patterns and education of both consumer and supplier to avoid waste in the first instance.

Real concerns

One of the principal matters of serious concern for Zero Waste Alliance Ireland (ZWAI) over a period of many years is the acceptance of the high amount of discarded materials and objects, which may be currently regarded as wastes, but which are potentially recyclable but not recycled here. These are exported from Ireland to other countries for processing or disposal. As a consequence, these materials are lost resources to Ireland, and the jobs which would be created by reprocessing and remanufacturing are also lost to us. More critically new repair skills, CE design thinking and re-manufacturing process skills that would create new technological solutions have not been developed here. This puts us at a disadvantage to other, more Circular economies, where these new age skills are now being developed.

Canada shows how.

Take the example of the Canadian province of Nova Scotia. As far back as  1989 they had decided to embark on a policy of diverting 50% of waste from landfill year-on-year, thereby avoiding the need to construct of more landfills. The Canadian policy on waste management emphasised that resource conservation, materials efficiency, waste prevention, and the re-use and recycling of materials are all integral components of a sustainable economy. Target Zero Canada1 had suggested at that time that making material and energy efficiency a tenet of the Canadian economy was an essential precondition both for achieving zero waste and for ensuring long-term economic and environmental health. Unfortunately, these benefits were not generally recognised in conventional accounting mechanisms and measures of progress, with the result that these mechanisms and measures were sending contrary messages.

In Ireland, the very similar measures of progress which we use have also failed to show the value to society of re-use, repair and recycling. But while other countries have made considerable progress towards “Zero Waste” or the development of what is now known as “The Circular Economy”, Ireland has lagged behind and has achieved apparently high “recycling rates” only by exporting large volumes of potentially recyclable materials to other countries.

It’s now time for real action in Ireland, on a scale much greater and much deeper than the Minister timidly suggests.

So what’s next?

Let’s see some real investment in consumer education and behavioural changes by an education, taxation and incentive approach (carrot and stick) that surpasses the limited Plastic Bag campaign.

Let’s start with a ban on single-use disposable containers by imposing a punitive tax on them (e.g. fast food containers, paper coffee cups that are not 100% entirely re-useable)  and lowering Vat on re-useable products such as re-useable bottles.

There are many other areas the Government can act top accelerate our adoption of a Zero Waste lifestyle but space is limited here to discuss further. Think about the following however as a parting thought.

Cheap/low cost things to do :
1. Hold Competitions: Target designers for  new process techniques, novel re-use applications (young scientist type events) to unleash the creative talent we have.
2. Run funded Education campaigns – consumers/ schools  (schools competitions also for projects)
3. Finance Public awareness campaigns (social media, low-cost publicity channels) e.g. wage a media war on disposables
4. Ask the EPA to seek more research tenders and calls for novel solutions to re-work, repair, re-design and re-use solutions.
Medium cost :
1. Pass legislative actions to favour repair, re-work through incentives, vat rate reduction, refunds etc.
2. Accelerate a Green Public procurement policy to include reworked, recycled, repaired items (with min % quantities bought) to create a market for the greener goods on sale.
3. Empower Recycling, re-use schemes through local /national financial incentives to operators e.g. bottle re-use (grant aid operators of plants that wash/re-use, re-distribute). Incentivise producers of liquids to use glass rather than less recyclable/re-useable materials.
Higher cost:
1. Offer free or subsidised Infrastructure for CE companies (warehouses, plants, sites, grants).e.g. re-use, sharing sites, non-profits, community groups for CE activities.
2. Change C&D waste treatment by favouring deconstruction programmes (training, support to firms  engaged in deconstruction sector)
3. Offer incentives to consumers (subsidies to favour re-useable products, trade-ins, support retailers to offer used stock in their retail outlets e.g. no rates on space used for recycled sales items so that every retailer can become a new /used shop rather than just a Second-Hand store). This also applies to houses built from recycled materials.
Let’s get serious about taking real and well-funded actions to embrace the Circular Economy. Time is not on our side. We need more ambitious politicians. let’s hope they step up to the challenge.

1 On 21 November 2000, Target Zero Canada, a network of Earth Day Canada, launched the program “Zero Waste Solutions.” The program promoted “zero waste” environmental policies and innovative systems based on best-practice models already established by governments, businesses and organizations worldwide.

To book a Food Waste Audit or enquire about our Accelerated Aerobic Digesters, that deliver compost within 24 hours from Food Waste, contact us at info@zerowasteireland.com. Take action now, no more waiting.