01 Dec

Green Bin Rules – are we unpaid recycling workers?


green bin rules

Are we working as unpaid staff for the recycling companies?

It might seem like that when you read the revised green bin collection guidelines given by the Co Councils for household waste recycling. We must sort, separate, loosen, wash, clean and dry our materials before they go in the green bin. That’s hard work and we still have to pay them to have it taken away.

It was a surprise to listeners of Cork’s 96FM Radio station this week when we discussed the apparent ‘new green bin rules’ outlined by the Councils through the Regional Waste Management Authorities. These rules were always in place since 2014 but never policed until the rejection of recycled waste shipments by the Chinese in the past few months put waste shippers under pressure to improve their quality controls. This has resulted in a call going back to consumers here to provide ‘cleaner’ recycled materials. Rejected materials cost the waste shippers dearly and will result in higher prices here to consumers ultimately as they have to re-work the materials before re-exporting. (we don’t really do a lot of recycling in Ireland in actual fact. Our apparent ‘good recycling rates’ are just collection  and export for recycling abroad. We really need to do more real recycling and remanufacturing in Ireland and create the green jobs here. But that’s another blog topic.

More  info: PJ Coogan on Cork’s 96FM Opinion line discusses the issues with waste quality rules now being enforced on households.

Why should the items be clean and dry?

If your container contained food or liquid, then some residues will remain. These will contaminate the recycling process so they must be rinsed clean to remove the matter before going into your recycle bin (green bin). Food and liquid can contaminate the materials in the recycling bin especially the paper recycling process. Wet paper cannot be recycled.

Why is there a new list?

It’s not a new list. It will vary from area to area depending on recycling facilities available. Recycled materials such as paper and cardboard, metals and plastic are sold on the global market, by the recyclers but the prices and demand for these materials constantly change. To get the best value for our materials, they need to be cleaned and sorted. China and India are major buyers of recyclable material from Europe and they use these materials for manufacturing instead of extracting raw materials. As stated above, over the past year, China and India have enforced higher standards on received stocks.  Mixed materials such as plastics, paper or cardboard baled together or contaminated items (or those containing unrecyclable elements)  are being rejected.  To sell our bulk recyclable materials we need to be able to separate these materials quickly and easily at the recycler depots and ensure they are contaminant free.  

The cycle starts with the householder. So there are 2 things to do.

  1. Sort and clean the recyclable items from the non-recyclable ones.
  2. Only put into the green bin those items allowed. Put them in dry, clean and loose.

What about paper food containers. What is recyclable?
Any paper food container that has been soiled with food or become damp is not recyclable and should be put in the residual bin or composted. For example, pizza boxes and other fast food or takeaway containers.  (The contamination will impact the paper recycling & re-pulping process negatively so we must avoid them).

Tip. Remember you can always just tear away or cut out soiled areas of these boxes and recycle the undamaged parts. This is worth the effort if only a small area has become contaminated. 

  • Paperboard food containers such as cereal boxes, paper egg cartons, and cake mix boxes that are unsoiled are recyclable. Just remove the plastic lining and shake out extra food crumbs.
  • Empty frozen food boxes should be placed in the recycling bin  (green bin) along with Milk and juice cartons, once washed.

What About Glass?

Glass does not go in the household recycling bin. Collect all bottles and place in glass bottle banks. You may have a separate glass bin collection in some areas but if not take the bottles to your local community bring centre. Glass can be recycled repeatedly.
Beware that not all glassware can be put in glass banks such as cookware, Pyrex, plates, cups and ceramics. And don’t forget to remove the metal or plastic lids of glass items before recycling them  These lids are generally PP plastic or metal so are recyclable in the green bin.

The recyclable list.

Paper

Newspapers 

Magazines  

Junk Mail
Phone Books
Catalogues
Tissue Boxes
Sugar Bags
Calendars
Diaries
Letters
Computer Paper
Used Beverage And Juice Cartons
Milk Cartons
Egg Boxes
Paper Brochures
School Copy Books
Old School Books (If They Cannot Be Donated Or Reused)
Paper Potato Bags

Cardboard

Food Boxes
Packaging Boxes
Cereal Boxes
Kitchen Towel Tubes
Toilet Roll Tubes

Please remove any plastic inserts from cardboard boxes before placing into bin

ALUMINIUM CANS

Drinks Cans
*Empty Deodorant Cans (Plastic Lid Separate)

STEEL CANS

Pet Food Cans
Food Cans
Biscuit Tins
Soup Tins

PLASTIC CONTAINERS (PET 1)

Mineral Bottles
Water Bottles
Mouth Wash Bottles
Salad Dressing Bottles

PLASTIC CONTAINERS (HDPE 2)

 Milk Bottles
Juice Bottles
Cosmetic Bottles
Shampoo Bottles
Household Cleaning Bottles
Laundry Detergent Bottles
Window Cleaning Bottles
Bath Room Bottles
Containers Should Be Empty When Being Placed Into Recycling Bin

PLASTIC CONTAINERS (PP 5)

Yoghurt Containers
Margarine Tubs
Rigid Food Packaging
Liquid Soap Containers
Fruit Containers (With Netting Removed)

See www.repak.ie for a full list.

What’s NOT allowed in the green bin.

Put wrappers in the residual bin – they’re not recyclable

It’s especially important to know what to leave out. These items shouldn’t be in your recycling bin:

  • Contaminated Packaging (greasy, dirty or with residue). like we said above. (Cut out contaminated areas if you can)
  • Non recyclable plastic wrappings, like sweet wrappers, Tayto bags, plastic shopping bags. These plastics are not recyclable or can damage the recycling processes used for other  recyclable plastics.
  • Nappies and Sanitary Products, medicines, medical waste (including baby wipes) – put in the residual waste bin
  • Food Waste (raw or cooked) – put in your food waste bin (if there is a collection)  or compost the cooked food in your composter.
  • Grass, Garden Cuttings / Soil – put in your composter.
  • Polystyrene (EPS) – there may be separate collection or bring to your civic amenity centre.
  • Liquids/ Oils  – bring to your civic amenity centre.
  • Textiles – including clothes/shoes and home furnishings – bring to your civic amenity centre.
  • Dismantled Furniture – bring to your civic amenity centre
  • Light Bulbs, Batteries &Electrical and Electronic Equipment (remove the plugs and re-use them)
  • Other General waste that should be in the General waste Bin. e.g. building rubble

So there you have the list and you know what to do. So do you still think you’re working for the recyclers, for free? Let us know your thoughts on our FB page .

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
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

12 Apr

Environ Conference Token reference to Circular Economy

Denis-Naughton

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.

FoodWasteHierarchy

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.