16 Nov

Zero Waste Lifestyle –What Does It Mean?

Zero Waste Lifestyle

 

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.

    Choose Re-usable over Disposable

    Choose Re-usable over Disposable

  • 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
01 Nov

Dirty Water : Wastewater treatment opportunity.

Image courtesy Peter Hershey

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.

See our Submission details here and others on our submissions page .

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.

Phosphorus Mining.

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.

  1. 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;
  2. 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;
  3. 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;

ZWAI advocates:
  1. 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,
  2. 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 Toilet Swedish style

    Source separation Toilet Swedish style

    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.

  1. This objective may be best achieved by an amendment to Part H of the Building Regulations; and,
  2. 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.
21 Oct

Tyre kickers needed?

We need your help and fast.

stand up for tyre recycling

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.

The Background

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:

  1. up to 50% of all used tyres were unaccounted for  – i.e. LOST
  2. there was a significant rate of non-compliance with the previous regulations and
  3. 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 :

Chairman: Deputy Hildegarde Naughton hildegarde.naughton@oireachtas.ie

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.

Yours sincerely,

Name &  address

When done, why not post your submission on the ZeroWasteAllianceIreland Facebook Page, so we can all clap your effort.

Thank you.


Useful references:

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:

  1. Plastic from tyres ‘major source’ of ocean pollution
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tire_fire
  3. http://www.ruconbar.com
18 Oct

Farmers, it’s ‘Bring out your Haz Waste’ time of year again.

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.

Unique co-operation.

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.

The details.

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

 

09 Aug

Climate Change & the Citizens assembly. Make your Submission now.

2020 targets slip

Time to vent your thoughts on Climate Change?

No one hears your thoughts on the environment unless you make them known.

So now you have a chance to let the Government know, through the Citizens assembly. We’ve had too much green washing and too little action by Governments in Ireland over the past decade to help us fight climate change and this is a time to let them know how frustrated we are about it. The Citizens Assembly submissions process on “How the State can make Ireland a leader in tackling climate change” is now open (link to form below). So go have your say. It can be as long or short as you want.

Submissions Process

The submissions process on “How the State can make Ireland a leader in tackling climate change” is now open. The closing date for submissions on the topic is Friday 11th of August.

Members of the public, representative groups and citizen organisations are urged to make a submission to the Assembly.

Will they listen?

Well, the Assembly has been tasked with considering some of the most complex topics facing Irish society and now it will be looking at something that has posed a challenge for societies right across the world. Climate change, specifically one country or another’s capacity to lead or to step back from the issue, is a global talking point right now. So  it is timely for us all in Ireland to be participate in this discussion.

What aspects of Climate Change will the Assembly look at?

In order to give this topic due consideration, the Assembly will meet over two weekends to consider it; 30th September/ 1st October and 6th/7th November; a second weekend has been added to allow the members to consider this important issue more fully to enhance the discussion and the eventual recommendations which emerge.

Submissions are invited across the full spectrum of issues in relation to Climate Change, but in particular, the Assembly would like to hear views on Ireland’s energytransport, waste management and agriculture sectors.

In addition, the Assembly is working to dovetail the work of the Assembly with work about to be undertaken by the advisory group on the National Dialogue on Climate Change. That group will consider how the State can properly engage the wider public, that’s us all, on the issue of climate change.  So submissions addressing this aspect are also welcome.

Will your input be read? How will your submission be used?

The first answer is Yes. All submissions will be published on the Assembly’s website, and a summary will be prepared for the Members of the Assembly in advance of the September meeting. The submissions will play a key role in helping develop the work programme on the topic and can ultimately shape the recommendations being made by the members to the Houses of Oireachtas. The Assembly has already begun to publish the submissions received to date on their site.

Want to talk to them too?

That’s possible too. You see, according to the Assembly’s Rules and Procedures following receipt of submissions on any matter, the Assembly may choose to hear oral presentations from any representative group or individual to assist in its deliberations. As such those wishing to be considered to address the Assembly should first make a submission.

What will be the outcome of the deliberations?

According to the resolution establishing the Assembly, the Assembly must report and make recommendations to the Houses of the Oireachtas. This is done by means of a voting by the members. The resolution goes on to say that the Government will provide in the Houses of the Oireachtas a response to each recommendation of the Assembly and, if accepting the recommendation, will indicate the time frame it envisages for the holding of any related referendum

Ok. that’s clear.  So How do I make a submission?

Submissions can be made online using the form below or by post to: 16 Parnell Square, Dublin 1, D01 X9Y2. To arrive no later than 11th of August 2017. Online submissions will remain open until 5pm on 11th August.

All documents received by the Assembly secretariat may be listed on the website, in order of date received and displayed with a name/name of organisation, and the title of the submission.

START YOUR SUBMISSION HERE

So to save time, go have a look at previous submissions online and pick the points you want to support. Then the ideas will start to flow. Kep it short and punchy though, so it is read quickly.

Here’s some useful documents to reference in your piece. (good info at your fingertips)

Environmental Protection Agency fact sheet on Greenhouse Gases and Climate Change

The National Mitigation Plan

National Policy Position on Climate Action and Low Carbon Development

Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act 2015

Climate Change Advisory Council – Periodic Review Report 2017

Climate Change Advisory Council – First Report

The European Commission 2030 Climate and Energy Framework

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change

The Paris Agreement

11 Jul

Zero Waste Festival, watch and learn some tips.

Zero Waste Festival Ireland, 25 June 2017

This video was made in collaboration with The Green DiaryThe first-ever Zero Waste Festival in Ireland was held this past Sunday, 25 June 2017.The event was a roaring success with festival-goers treated to a range of talks, screenings, workshops, meet-ups, info stands, as well as a market and swap shop.The sold-out event was a great opportunity to network, share and learn, and is a positive step in moving Ireland toward a zero waste future.

Posted by Irish Environmental Network on Wednesday, June 28, 2017

There’s nothing like passionate individuals showing by example how a Zero Waste approach to everyday purchasing and living can be achieved with a little care and planning.

This Video say’s it all really so enjoy and take up the challenge to live a little closer to Zero. The best way to reduce your packaging waste is to stop purchasing heavily packaged items. Avoidance is the first step. Even the longest journey starts with a small step.  No matter what number you are starting from your journey to achieve Zero Waste.

Avoidance is the first step.

Photo Courtesy Unsplash

Even the longest journey starts with a small step.  No matter what number you are starting from your journey to achieve Zero Waste is a progression to Avoid, Reduce, Reuse , Recycle and get others to join you.

By showing others how to Reduce their Waste burden and offering to share tips and information you will have a bigger impact than you think. Make your views known to retailers and manufacturers that you no longer want to be a packaging waste victim. The more of us that do so the sooner will the

Make your views known to retailers and manufacturers that you no longer want to be a packaging waste victim. The more of us that do so the sooner will changes happen.