Waste materials gathered for recycling or disposal.

Views sought on new plan to tackle waste in Ireland

National Waste Management Plan for a Circular Economy 2023-2029

The people of Westmeath are being asked to have their say on a new draft plan that aims to tackle the challenges of waste in Ireland. The National Waste Management Plan for a Circular Economy is Ireland’s framework for the prevention and management of waste and will cover the years 2023 to 2029.

The previous Regional Waste Management Plans have provided a framework for progress made in the management of waste.

“We’ve seen a significant increase in the amount of waste produced in this country and it’s not sustainable,” said Kevin Swift, regional waste co-ordinator Connacht Ulster.

“Recent data shows last year alone we, as a nation in total, collected more than 13 and a half million tonnes of waste. That’s the equivalent of more than two tonnes for each person. This cannot continue and that’s why we’ve come up with this plan to tackle the problem.”

The plan aims to shift Ireland towards a more circular economy, in which resources are reused or recycled as much as possible and waste generation is minimised.

It contains six key targets, including the aim to reuse 10kgs of resources per person annually during the period of the plan.

“An important step in reducing our waste is to increase the amount of material we reuse,” said Mr Swift.

“We know through the Charity Shop Network, through various online platforms and even through the simple acts of having a reusable coffee cup or water bottle, that people are already engaging in reuse.”

The plan aims to encourage sustainable consumption, and includes proposals for more awareness campaigns, education programmes, demonstration projects and promotion of the correct ways to use bins, at home or at work.

The plan wants to ensure that when a product reaches the end of its life, its materials are kept within the economy wherever possible.

Products can be productively used again and again, thereby creating further value.

By transitioning to a circular economy, we can reduce pressure on our natural resources, help achieve climate targets, support the Sustainable Development Goals and create sustainable growth and jobs.

“This plan is aiming to put a lid on waste growth (0% total waste growth per person over the life of the plan), with an emphasis on non-household waste, including from commercial activities and the construction and demolition sector,” said Mr Swift.

“It should be noted that despite challenging operating conditions caused by Covid-19, Ireland was one of the few countries in Europe to maintain full waste services. While we are currently on track to achieve many of the current European Union waste targets, challenges remain to achieve recycling targets and therefore increasing recycling continues to be a key priority.”

The private waste sector in Ireland is valued at more than €1.4bn and provides employment for approximately 10,000 people.

Local authority expenditure on waste functions is more than €280 million a year and involves some 1700 people.

The plan highlights how a transition to a circular economy will require an additional minimum investment of €40 million by the state.

John McLaughlin, chair of the CCMA Climate Action, Transport, Circular Economy Committee, said: “This draft plan is the outcome of a two-year engagement and collaboration with partners, stakeholders, and the wider waste audience.

“Collaboration with all the stakeholders, including the public and businesses has been central to drafting the plan and will continue to be central to its success as it is implemented.

“Key deliverables have been included in the draft plan on organisation, engagement and monitoring to support this collaborative approach.

“Responsibility for key deliverables, which will drive the success of the plan has been allocated to the local authority sector, the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications, and the Environmental Protection Agency.”

The public consultation is open until July 3, 2023.

Submissions or observations can be made online at www.mywaste.ie, by email to submissions@nationalwasteplan.ie or by post to the lead authorities.