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New legislation to be drafted on a circular economy

16 June 2021

The Government will draft new legislation to implement a circular economy which it hopes will drastically change production and consumption.

The Cabinet approved the general scheme of a Circular Economy Bill 2021, which is set to implement many actions from the Government’s Waste Action Plan.

The Government has described the current linear the economic model around ‘Take-Make-Waste’ as environmentally and economically unsustainable, recognising that Ireland needs to establish a circular economy that designs out waste and pollution to help achieve its climate ambitions.

The new strategy will involve significant changes to production and consumption by limiting single use products and clamping down on littering and dumbing among other measures.

The Bill will consolidate the Government’s policy of keeping fossil fuels in the ground by introducing prohibitions on exploration for and extraction of coal, lignite and oil shale, according to the Department of the Environment.

“We need binding targets”

The new circular economy strategy will be put on a statutory footing, meaning the Government will be legally required to develop a circular economy.

“They [The Government] appreciate moving away from a linear economy and they do want to embrace a more circular economy, but what we need is binding targets,” said Coordinator of VOICE of Irish Concern for the Environment, Mindy O’Brien.

Ms O’Brien said that road maps need to be put forward for different sectors so clear binding targets can be implemented for each industry.

“Whatever legislation that comes forth from this strategy has to have binding targets and it has to require industry to change the way they present their products. It needs to make it easy for consumers to make an easy choice to buy more sustainable products and more circular products and services,” she said.

According to the Bill, the Minister will appoint a day or days when the Act will come into operation.

Minister for Environment, Climate and Communications, Eamon Ryan has said that the Government is “committed to a more ambitious, transformative approach to production and consumption to achieve a systematically circular economy.”

The minister stated that it is vital that waste and resource use are minimalised by default.

The Circular Economy Bill 2021, along with the circular economy strategy, which is set to be published soon, will replace the current “unsustainable” model and help Ireland meet its Climate ambitions.

The ambitious Bill will also strengthen waste enforcement in relation to illegal dumbing and littering through the use of CCTV and other technologies in enforcement actions.

Story by Shauna Burdis