Zero Waste Cashel: Community role in combating waste

Published by Lexie McMullan on

July 19th, 2018

It is predicted that two-thirds of the global population will be living in urban areas by 2050. And with more people inevitably comes more waste issues. So how will we be able to cope?

With the Greater Dublin Area alone set to see its population increase by just over 400,000 by 2031, we need solutions fast, and a small town in Co Tipperary may be ready to offer a solution.

Cashel is leading the way in figuring out how to deal with waste through its Zero Waste Cashel project, the first initiative of its kind in Ireland.

Through seminars and master plans with local schools, businesses, and neighbourhoods, Zero Waste Cashel is working to change local behaviour toward consumption and waste issues.

The scheme is supported not by laws and regulations but by the community itself. The Zero Waste Cashel pledge has guidelines calling on locals to partake in the sharing economy instead of buying new products and to buy a reusable water bottle instead of single-use bottled water.

 According to VOICE, an environmental charity supporting the project, locals have “truly embraced” the zero-waste philosophy.

“Instead of trying to figure out which bin our waste should go into, we are asking the residents of Cashel to think about waste prevention instead through various initiatives and personal actions”, a VOICE spokesperson said.

Throughout Reuse Month in October 2017, the project held a furniture upcycling and bicycle repair workshop, a Green Business seminar, a toy collection for reuse, and a cooking demo focused on minimizing food waste.

The majority of businesses in Cashel have joined the Conscious Cup Campaign that supports and promotes reusable cups over disposable ones.

A few Conscious Cup Campaign members throughout the town are Spearman’s Bakery and Tearoom, Grogan’s Café and Ice Cream Parlour, and even Starbucks as it offers a €0.35 discount for those with a reusable cup.

Many other businesses are also taking steps to reduce their waste streams, such as Amneal Pharmaceuticals that has introduced compost and recycling bins to reduce waste throughout its office.

Over 30 Cashel businesses are currently contributing to the zero waste movement in the town and can be found on one cumulative list in an accessible online document, making it easy for the community to find resources.

Derry O Donnell, Zero Waste Cashel Project Manager, told The Green News that businesses began changing light bulbs to “more energy efficient led lights, monitoring their water usage and repairing any leaks”.

Hospitality businesses also became more aware of how they were losing money by wasting food, he said, taking steps to reduce the amount of food waste generated in the business.

A Waste Characterisation Study performed by Zero Waste Cashel showed that 22 per cent of the towns general waste was food waste, leading the project to supply residents of Spafield Crescent Cashel with free brown bins for organic waste to contribute to compost rather than landfills.

In 2017, 22,354 new companies were registered in Ireland with 46 per cent in Dublin. Sean Cronin, the Director of the Zero Waste Alliance, told The Green News that it may be harder to achieve these results in a large urban city like Dublin.

“What works well in small, well-connected communities may not translate to the more impersonal city environment or national” because “you will not get 100 per cent commitment,” he said.

“There is a lot of local goodwill and community motivation needed to make recycling and reuse work, especially higher level activities like avoidance, prevention and changing behaviours”.

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