June 29th, 2018
In the first of a series of articles on Public Participation Networks, Lexie McMullan examines their important role in the movement to eliminate waste from the Irish environment.
This June, RTÉ revealed the harsh reality of illegal dumping throughout Ireland. The abundance of waste in the country has been a problem for decades that clearly requires national action.
Luckily, organizations like VOICE are helping to combat unnecessary waste through education and awareness.
VOICE has played an important role in pushing Ireland to reduce its waste, pushing for the introduction of the national plastic bag tax, establishing the first Zero Waste community in Cashel, Co Tipperary, and more recently, the Recycling Ambassador Programme.
The programme performs workshops that educate citizens on what and how to recycle properly. Whether it be a primary school, business building, or farmers group, knowing how to distribute tins, cans, plastics, and paper correctly can make a substantial difference to our environment.
However, the success of these recycling initiatives would be weakened without the Public Participation Networks (PPNs). PPNs were launched in 2012 across every county in Ireland to give non-profit groups a voice concerning policy change in their community.
By joining a PPN, local groups can benefit from joining linkage groups to connect like-minded individuals, a local support system, and information on funding.
Suzie Cahn, the Recycling Ambassador Programme project manager, has seen the benefits of PPNs first-hand. Ms Cahn told The Green News that the PPN system has provided access to community groups to whom they can offer free workshops on correct recycling protocols.
Ms Cahn added: “Our ambassadors attended many PPN plenaries too and this was invaluable for networking at a local level. This is particularly significant as a small environmental NGO with a national focus.”
This is a perfect example of how PPNs are meant to benefit society, by connecting local communities with groups that have a national focus.
By using the resources available to them by PPNs, VOICE is spreading information throughout the counties and creating the change we need.
According to the EPA, Irish municipal waste recycling was 41 per cent as of 2014. The UN has a municipal waste recycling target of 65 per cent by 2030.
By Lexie McMullan