27 Jan

2017 – the Year of Zero Food Waste

Zero Food Waste to landfill

2017 will be the Zero FOOD Waste YEAR –

Zero Food Waste to landfill

ZeroFood Waste- Landfill courtesy celestine-ngulube, via unsplash

The year we finally get our FOOD WASTE TO ZERO.

Zero Waste Alliance are launching a big weapon in the war on Food Waste – a commercial Zero Food waste digester for Food catering and retailing establishments. We will follow later in the year with a Domestic unit suitable for Households. This is a timely intervention as price hikes for food waste collections will kick in and our landfills refuse to accept food waste (a long overdue implementation of EU directives in Ireland).

With Food Management techniques, aerobic on-site food waste digestion to energy, anaerobic digestion facilities or  regular composters used,  no more Food Waste needs to go to landfill. Battle over ! Whooppee.

Check out a Food Waste Digester in action here.

But remember that you can fight food waste by clever planning and avoiding waste in the first instance. No food waste means no big waste collection charges. Makes sense right. So pay attention and follow these simple steps to cut your food losses and your bills  to zero.

How to Reach Zero Food Waste In Your Home

Avoid

Don’t buy what you don’t need in the first place. Don’t buy quantities beyond your capacity to use before it goes stale. Special offers are tempting but you often buy more than you can consume in a short period and unless it is non-perishable, you can freeze it or store it safely it ends up in the waste bin.  Make a shopping list, with quantities needed and stick to this list. Do not be diverted or tempted to add to it.

Once you’ve brought food home don’t let it rot there, unloved and uneaten before it’s use by date. How many times have you had to throw away that last apple or banana or the rest of that bagged salad mix because it ripened or degraded before your family could eat it? It went from shelf to bin and through your wallet. Just think of the money you wasted to buy food just to allow it to spoil and dump in the compost bin or garbage bin.

Here’s 3 ways to get a better outcome and make your home a zero food waster’s paradise.

1.       Eat What You Buy – and only buy what you need for the short term.

It’s all about quantities. Work out just how many apples your family will eat in a week? How many meals will you plan next week using potatoes? That huge bag of tomatoes may be on sale, but can all those ripe tomatoes really be eaten before they go bad? What is your Tomato consumption rate in a week? Just buy that amount because any more is a false economy unless you freeze them.  So buy only what your family can reasonably eat while it’s still fresh. What might have appeared to be a bargain basement price for a big quantity might end up in a basement garbage bin, leaving you with disposal costs. In your quest to reach the Zero Food Waste  zone you must imagine that garbage bin being tiny.

2.       Use Your Leftovers – or Freeze them.

Cook the amounts you will need for that meal only. But sometimes you need to cook for a few meals to save time later in the busy week. e.g. a roast, a large curry. Cooking in bulk makes sense if you plan well and know when it will be consumed.  That’s fine but remember to freeze and seal  stored future meals so they are fresh when defrosted. Food can be forgotten in that frozen cabinet so label them well with use by dates. With smaller amounts of leftovers store them in glass or see through plastic jars so you can plainly see the food. That way you either enjoy those leftovers for lunch the next day or turn them into a brand new meal and reduce waste at the same time. Call it your Zero Food Waste menu.

3.       Portion controls anyone?

Very often we leave a large amount on our plates because our eyes were bigger than our stomachs. This happens a lot at buffet style meals. Rather serve smaller portions and repeat courses with extra helpings when the first ones are eaten. This applies especially to kids. This way uneaten food is still in the serving pot, uncontaminated by sauces and gravy etc. You can re-use next day or freeze for future use. Result –
less scrapings of mixed food waste. We’re getting close to Zero Food Waste now. Which leads us logically to the next situation.

Too late. It’s gone off ? What If It Goes Bad? – It can happen that you buy fresh produce and then it ripens quicker than you thought it would, or the kids leave a lot on their plate. Don’t throw it away. Scrape it into a compost bin or a Zero Food Waste  digester if you have one. With a digester you get rich compost in about 24 hours, or about 6 months for an outside compost heap.

Bringing it all Home – The one time to not avoid waste.

There is one case where avoidance is what we do not want to do. This is when we should bring it home. If you enjoy a restaurant meal but are unable to finish the food served – a very common occurrence – ask for a doggy bag. Otherwise it goes into the restaurant food waste pile and gets wasted.  The restaurant owner will thank you for reducing his pay-by- weigh food waste bin collection charge and you have a nice snack or lunch next day.

Bon appetit !

  • 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.

  • 28 Jun

    Is Waste Metering coming soon?

    HAS WATER WASTE METERING ARRIVED?

    We give a very qualified welcome to yesterday’s WASTE CHARGES Announcement by Minister Naughton of the  Department of Communications, Climate Action & Environment (see text in the annex below). It starts the ball rolling on waste reduction initiatives but does not go far enough to ensure recycling, waste avoidance and consumer incentives are accelerated.

    600,000 customers in the Dublin will see an impact in the coming months and this will be in the form of higher pricing, unfortunately, as waste collectors avail of the new rules to increase profits. The rest of Ireland will follow suit as waste collectors avail of  this opportunity to raise prices to cover their own rising costs.

     We review the news under three aspects, the good points, the bad and the ugly consequences.

    The GOOD.

    1. This announcement gives WASTE OPERATORS four months to roll out brown bins (Food Waste) to thousands of people around the country. Something that was supposed to be done a year ago but is only coming along in a sporadic way. Many areas have no Brown bin service at present. Naughten agrees with us that far too much food and organic waste is ending up in the regular black bins.
      So to ramp up recycling, all waste collectors will be required to start rolling-out food and organic brown bins to all localities nationwide with a population greater than 500 people ( Currently it is 1,500, but not implemented widely yet)
    2. Under the new scheme, waste collectors have the flexibility to offer pricing options to their customers which the government hopes will incentivise recycling.
      These options include the choice of standing charges, per-lift, per-kilo, weight-bands, as well as weight allowance charges. Some of these schemes are already in place, mainly outside Dublin. In a normal market, this will allow the most efficient and cost effective operators to provide the best services for consumers, but this is Ireland and it doesn’t always end up as such.
    3. Flat fee charges are to be scrapped. This mitigated against a reduction in volumes as no incentive existed for greener-minded consumers. Instead, a pay by weight/volume in effect will be put into operation.
    4. They do not plan to build any new Landfills, but will focus on reducing the volumes of waste in all aspects.
    5. He wants to shift direction to a Zero Waste destination. Welcome on board Minister

    To combat the inevitable price rises the Minister asks us to ‘shop around’. Hmmm’.

    THE BAD.

    1. Price rises are unlimited – no upper price fixed. They will allow the private market to set their own pricing. There may be monopoly pricing or collusion. Think ‘Insurance Industry’ here to imagine how it might unravel.
    2. No waiver scheme has yet been produced in any detailed way.
    3. No Waste regulator is outlined- in particular, a pricing regulator for waste management activities (landfill, incinerator gate fees, bin charges etc). The EPA is purely engaged in Environmental policy and enforcement.
    4. The pay-by-weight scheme, which was due to come into place from 1 January, was delayed last December 2016 amid public outrage on price gouging by collectors. While this announcement says pay-by-weight in not coming, in the actual impact it is. Operators will charge by supplements and penalties for weights/volumes over fixed levels. This is current practice in certain areas, where amounts over 30kg are billed at 30c per kilo. We would prefer is there was not base level to allow very low usage to benefit from the reduced costs.
    5. Apartment blocks
      Naughten said work is underway to tackle the waste that is generated by people living in apartment blocks but this should have been done in advance of this announcement and highlights the lack of progress on implementation issues to date.
    6. The Minister said a new awareness campaign will also be rolled-out to educate people how to segregate their recycling. Remember the ‘Race Against Waste’  and ‘Stop Food Waste‘ campaigns. They were underfunded and limited. Do not repeat this without an adequate budget to educate and win hearts and minds. This takes time, effort and money and needs the NGO sector to be an integral part. (The plan to enlist volunteer  ‘Waste Ambassadors’ by the Regional Waste Authorities is not a dependable campaign). Involving NGOs, who have dedicated and dependable supporters would seem a better option as it will give it continuity when the payments cease to the commercial partners subcontracted for the PR campaign.
    7.  The biggest problem facing Waste Collectors at present is contamination (30% of recycling materials volume is contaminated). (Food waste mixed with recyclables, wet cardboard etc). This contamination diverts material that could be recycled to landfill so is easily avoided if we educate our population to prepare the recyclables properly.
    8. To combat the inevitable price rises the Minister asks us to ‘shop around’. With 67 waste operators in Ireland, he said households should compare prices and what’s on offer. But in many places, there is simply no choice. The Minister needs a rethink here on how to create a competitive market on a national level.
    9. No new actions are outlined for Glass , Plastic and disposable containers like coffee cups. There is urgent action needed to address these issues similar to the Plastic Bag levy that could have an immediate impact e.g. Refundable Bottle returns, Disposable Coffee Cup tax and a major Pet plastic recycling initiative to name but three. Alas, the imagination of the Government is blinded by Incinerator smoke when we need a clear vision.

    THE UGLY.

    1. “We are going to provide flexibility for operators to ensure that if people segregate more or produce less waste, they will pay less,” said the minister. We would be cautious of this as it could lead to an outbreak of illegal dumping as economic stress on consumers could force them into fly-tippling (especially of the heavier weight items). It’s already happening.
    2. FoodWasteHierarch

      Food Waste is a timebomb waiting to explode. This is the heaviest fraction by weight and when collected generally will impose a big cost on consumers.

    There needs to be a focus on education, consumer behaviour and food preparation to reduce the waste in the first instance. This is not a simple task as it involves food growers, distributors, retailers and consumers before anything lands in the brown bin.  We also need to encourage  Food Waste Recycling, redistribution and treatment in a full Circular Economy approach. Past experience in Ireland has shown that we plan well and create lots of reports but fail miserably on implementation. Failure in this National Food Waste project will result in a very ugly (and smelly) environment if all the pieces do not dovetail.

    The entire privatisation of waste management was & still remains a complete mess. It needs to be changed to Local area franchises, one company per area for limited periods, at tendered pricing to Councils or Waste Management regions and managed by a price regulator. It might get ugly putting this in place with vested interests not willing to cede ground but the consumer will be the ultimate winner.

    The changes will generate consumer anger and resentment. We think the Minister underestimates the feelings on this issue just as the same inertia applied to water charges.

    Our Analysis.

    Firstly, we must understand that these ‘new measures’,  are just a remarketed version of the same old existing regulations that were postponed.  They will come with increased costs for the end consumer. It will generate anger and resentment. We think the Minister underestimates feeling on this issue just as the same inertia applied to water charges. Water metering was rejected but will Waste Metering suffer the same fate? Will we see Wheelie Bins on the streets, and not the pavements,  in October?

    pay-by-weight typical bin weights in EU

    IS PAY BY WEIGHT BEING SCRAPED?

    Not in reality. The pay by weight previously proposed a scheme, such as it was,  is NOT being scrapped. It’s just been built into pricing by weight with thresholds, through PR spinning. There will be no Minimum or maximum pricing and no flat rate.

    So…what to expect next
    (a) expect bin bills to further rise. It’s a commercial business and collectors need to make a profit. There will be no price war, just rising prices from all collectors.

    (b) Also expect fly tipping to increase, as those who cannot afford the costs resort to illegal dumping and transfer the cleanup costs to the local authority.

    (c) Maybe those Wheelie bins may move from pavement to street in a protest rally when and if the price rises are significant and widespread in October.

    This Minister had the opportunity to find an equitable solution and take new initiatives to really ensure waste is eliminated at the source but he wasted that opportunity.  We will all pay the price of such failure, the consequences might smell to high heaven.


    ————————— Annex – Press Release text ———————————–

    Press release by Minister Naughton. 27/6/17

    Press Release: Minister Denis Naughten announces Household Waste Collection Charging Arrangements

    The Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Denis Naughten, T.D., today (27 June 2017) confirmed that a more flexible framework for waste collection charges has been approved by Government.

    The Minister stated “Allowing for a range of charging options, which most consumers are already familiar with, will encourage householders to reduce and separate their waste while choosing the service-price offering that best suits their circumstances and allows them manage their costs. Therefore, I have decided not to impose a compulsory ‘one size fits all’ per-kilogramme charging system on waste collectors.”

    The amount of waste sent to landfill has increased in the last two years. In 2016, there was insufficient capacity to dispose of residual waste and emergency powers were invoked by the regulatory authorities to make additional landfill capacity available. It is important to act now to encourage waste reduction to avert a return to an over-dependence on landfill. An incentivised pricing structure for household waste collection is an important measure in this regard.Under the new arrangement, waste collectors will be given the flexibility to continue to offer, or to introduce, a range of incentivised pricing options to their customers. These options include elements or combinations of standing charges, and per-lift, per-kilogramme.

    Under the new arrangement, waste collectors will be given the flexibility to continue to offer, or to introduce, a range of incentivised pricing options to their customers. These options include elements or combinations of standing charges, and per-lift, per-kilogramme, weight-bands, and weight allowance charges.

    A “one size fits all” mandatory, nationwide per-kilogramme charging system will not be implemented.

    However, ‘all-in flat rate’ charging for household waste will start to be phased out as customers renew or enter new service contracts.

    All waste collectors will be required to start rolling-out food/organic “brown” bins to all localities nationwide with a population greater than 500 people. This will help more households divert waste away from their standard black bins. Further consideration will be given to extending ‘brown’ bin coverage in phases to smaller localities.An annual support of €75 will be introduced for persons with lifelong/long-term medical incontinence. This support will help people meet the average annual cost of disposal of incontinence products. The details and arrangements of this support will be finalised later this year, after further consultation with the stakeholder groups.

    An annual support of €75 will be introduced for persons with lifelong/long-term medical incontinence. This support will help people meet the average annual cost of disposal of incontinence products. The details and arrangements of this support will be finalised later this year, after further consultation with the stakeholder groups.

    In support of the new arrangements, the three Regional Waste Management Planning Offices will implement an information and awareness campaign in the third quarter of the year.

    Ends