Circular Economy Graphic: Cambridge Judge Business School

Waste Action Plan will place Ireland at “the vanguard of EU efforts” on climate

4 September 2020 

The Department of Climate Action has launched a Waste Action Plan for a Circular Economy and says it will place Ireland at “the vanguard of EU efforts” on climate targets. 

The Plan spans from this year up to 2025 and includes a number of waste reduction measures, including halving food waste by 2030, introducing a deposit-and-return scheme for plastic bottles and cans, a ban on certain single use plastics from July 2021, and a levy on disposable cups. 

The document also commits to applying a “green criteria” and circular economy principles in all public procurement, a waste recovery levy to encourage recycling, and ensuring 100 per cent reusable or recyclable packaging by the end of the decade. 

A textile action group to “explore options to improve future circularity in textiles” is also proposed in the plan and will “examine the potential role of economic instruments (e.g. levies) on ‘fast fashion’” over the medium to long-term and argues that it would “support higher value indigenous producers” by reducing the cost differential. 

The new set of policy measures will “require us to move beyond a position of merely managing waste to where we question our use of resources and materials”, according to the Department. 

“What we need to do is rethink our relationship with our stuff – how we produce it, use it, and dispose of it. This plan sets out how we will go about that in a way that benefits people and planet,” Minister for Climate Action Eamon Ryan said. 

“Through increased awareness, better-informed consumption decisions and buy-in to a shared responsibility, Ireland can become a leader in this field delivering environmental, social and economic benefits,” he added. 

A Circular Economy as part of the “European Green Deal” 

The Environmental Pillar, a coalition of over 30 Irish environmental NGOs, welcomed the publication of the plan and called it “an important first step” in ensuring cross-sector waste reduction.

The document serves as a “solid blueprint for reducing our waste over the coming decade”, according to Environmental Pillar Coordinator Karen Ciesielski. 

The Plan also commits to publishing a Circular Economy Strategy, a document that will, “kickstart this model in line with what is called for in the European Green Deal,” Ms Ciesielski said. 

“We know the benefits of a circular economy are multifold for society and the environment. It can create jobs, support social enterprise and small-to-medium enterprises, and provide affordable products and services to the Irish public, all while mitigating climate change,” she said. 

VOICE Coordinator Mindy O’Brien applauded the release of the plan and the collaborative approach taken by the Department said she looked forward, “to further collaboration in the implementation of this action plan”. 

“We must ensure that many of the aspirational aspects of this plan come to fruition,” she added. 

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Kayle Crosson