How to take climate action through repair, reuse and recycling
Tips for individuals, communities, businesses and the public sector
By Community Reuse Network Ireland
Now that the government’s Climate Action Plan has been released, many are wondering what they can do to take climate action.
One area often overlooked is reducing consumption of goods.
Recent studies have found that up to 40% of global emissions are due to extraction, manufacturing and distribution of goods.
Textile production, for example, contributes more to climate change than international aviation and shipping combined.
Currently in Ireland it is estimated only about 3% of goods are reused compared with 45% recycled and the rest recovered or disposed.
It is critical to move away from a disposable culture (take-make-waste) towards sustainable reuse of goods we have already – through repair, reuse and recycling.
Now is the time for everyone to act to reduce the climate impact of our resource consumption.
Community Reuse Network Ireland (CRNI) has developed climate actions individuals, communities, businesses and the public sector can take to contribute to a more Circular Economy through repair, reuse and recycling.
More actions, toolkits and research can be found on CRNI’s website: www.crni.ie.
Climate action for Individuals:
People can reuse every day, in their homes, the workplace and during leisure time.
Reuse, repair and recycling activities range from buying or donating pre-loved items at charity and second-hand shops to reducing food waste to borrowing, swapping, repairing and upcycling existing items.
These actions will contribute to the Climate Action Plan, which will strengthen waste collection and management systems to support consumers to reduce, reuse and recycle.
Climate Action for Communities:
Sharing repair, reuse and recycling information and resources among community groups, schools, clubs and parishes can encourage others to pursue a sustainable lifestyle.
Community-based initiatives, such as repair cafes, tool libraries, book swap box, repair and upskilling workshops, and swap events for tools, toys and clothes are some of the ways communities can get involved.
These actions will contribute to the Climate Action Plan, which will promote more innovation in reduction, reuse and recycling in communities.
Climate action for Businesses:
Behind every product, there are resources and emissions resulting from resource use, manufacturing, packaging and transportation.
It has become increasingly difficult to repair or refurbish goods, due to poor product design and the design phase of products is critical in driving effective reuse and recycling.
Ireland’s design and manufacturing industry can show leadership and innovation through the green design of their products in a durable, repairable and low-carbon manner.
These actions will contribute to the Climate Action Plan, which describes the urgency for businesses to pursue low-carbon business models across supply chains and highlights designing out waste by prioritising prevention of waste through eco-design, reuse and repair, taxation and levies.
Climate action for the Public Sector:
Those in the public sector can make low-carbon choices through green procurement.
Recent CRNI research shows that government can help to use the estimated 1.2 million potentially reusable bulky items thrown out every year by committing to Bulky Item Reuse in their procurement decisions.
These actions will contribute to the Climate Action Plan, which will require a Climate Action Mandate and reporting on waste segregation and reuse and recycling practices for public bodies.
CRNI members, through their reuse, recycling and waste prevention social enterprises, can help individuals, communities, businesses and the public sector take climate action.
CRNI members reused over 31kt goods in 2018 that would otherwise have gone for recovery or disposal, which saved over 220k tonnes of carbon.
They also provided more than 660 full-time jobs, 1,600 training positions and 5,800 volunteer opportunities, in both urban and rural communities, across the island with an estimated social value of over €39 million.
The turnover of their combined activities amounted to €66 million and more than 11 million customers were reached.
Claire Downey, CRNI executive, said: “We are proud of our members’ impact, but a lot more has to be done to get the full potential of a more circular economy in Ireland.
“Repair, reuse and recycling must be prioritised in policy and by individuals, communities, businesses and the public sector when making day-to-day decisions.
“This would reduce the demand for new goods and in turn reduce pressure on our climate due to extraction and manufacturing as well as reducing waste.”
About Community Reuse Network Ireland (CRNI)
Community Reuse Network Ireland is an all-island representative body for community-based reuse, recycling and waste prevention organisations.
Our vision is an Ireland where the word ‘waste’ doesn’t exist and where our entire community benefits from the social, environmental and economic value of all reusable resources.
The network is funded under the EPA’s National Waste Prevention Programme.
More information on our work and members is available at www.crni.ie and at @CRNIreland on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram.