Next week the Irish government's Waste Management Plan for a Circular Economy will be published

A year has passed since VOICE submitted comprehensive recommendations to the Draft National Waste Management Plan, outlining crucial insights to shape a more ambitious and sustainable future.

With bated breath, we await the unveiling of the Waste Management Plan, hopeful that our contributions have resonated, and our proposals have found a place in this pivotal document. Our submission provided comprehensive insights and recommendations for a more ambitious, effective, and sustainable approach. As Ireland moves towards a circular future, incorporating these suggestions could enhance the plan's impact and contribute to a more resilient and environmentally conscious society.

Here is a summary of our submission, you can read the full document HERE

By Lyndsey O'Connell

Focus Area 1: Commercial Waste:

While recognising the challenges faced by businesses in waste collection and segregation, VOICE stresses the importance of waste prevention as the primary form of management. The organisation, now trained assessors for the Zero Waste Certification scheme, encourages a shift towards a circular resource-use model and welcomes the emphasis on commercial waste. However, VOICE suggests placing more focus on waste avoidance through reusable packaging, particularly in the business-to-business (B2B) sector. The organization supports incentivized charging but emphasizes the need for strict monitoring and effective implementation across stakeholders.

Focus Area 4: Collection Systems:

VOICE applauds the inclusion of a responsive and coordinated collection system in this focus area. The alignment of commercial kerbside and household collection systems is considered a positive step. However, the organization highlights the need for timely access to data for targeted waste prevention measures and supports standardised services for apartment waste segregation. Emphasizing the importance of data in achieving the aims of the plan, VOICE stresses the need for effective management plans for bulky waste and improved accessibility to civic amenity sites.

VOICE urges the inclusion of binding targets instead of mere promotion

Focus Area 6: Packaging Waste:

While welcoming the promotion of reusable packaging and product refills in the retail sector, VOICE urges the inclusion of binding targets instead of mere promotion. Referring to successful models in France, the organisation emphasises the importance of setting targets to ensure the effectiveness of the plan. Additionally, VOICE advocates for the removal of unnecessary plastic packaging on fruits and vegetables, following France's lead in embracing a circular economy.

Focus Area 7: Single-Use Plastic:

Acknowledging the strong policies and actions in this focus area, VOICE calls for a clear approach applied to other areas of the Waste Management Plan. The organisation emphasises the need for detailed waste stream analysis every two years to support research and innovation for various material streams. VOICE urges the realisation of aims, including a ban on single-use disposables in sit-in café settings and the implementation of the Circular Economy Act 2022.

Focus Area 9: Textiles:

VOICE addresses the heavy research orientation of Focus Area 9 and calls for national frameworks and directives to harmoniously extend separate collection streams for textiles. Our organisation stresses the importance of setting concrete targets, means, and timelines. While welcoming assessments, VOICE emphasises the need for clarity in the definition of terms and calls for transparency in existing collection methods. VOICE supports mandatory reporting to obtain data from all stakeholders for effective policymaking.

Focus Area 12: Reuse/Repair Infrastructure:

VOICE welcomes the inclusion of Reuse and Repair Infrastructure as a focus area but urges ambitious targets to meet the 2025 goal. We call for investment in infrastructure for the collection, sorting, and recycling of reuse packaging. VOICE suggests setting binding sectoral reuse targets and supports policies facilitating reuse and repair initiatives with technical, regulatory, and financial support. VOICE emphasises the need to overcome insurance and liability barriers in the reuse and repair markets.

Additional Focus Area: Nappies:

VOICE advocates for the inclusion of an additional focus area on nappies, citing their substantial contribution to household waste figures. We propose the adoption of the Cloth Nappy Incentive Scheme by local authorities and waste regions nationwide to promote the shift to reusable nappies. Drawing parallels with the successful Conscious Cup Campaign, VOICE stresses the effectiveness of dedicated campaigns in changing behavior and fostering national change