We made two important submissions, one for the National Waste Action Plan and one for a Circular Economy and the Climate Action Plan 2021

As Government continues to move forward with the drafting of both the national waste management plan and the Climate Action Plan 2021, it is crucial that the vision of a zero-waste future is kept firmly in mind. To this end, VOICE Ireland has made submissions to both plans, laying out a series of recommendations that aim at preventing the creation of waste and aiding the transition to a truly circular economy.

What do we want included in the National Waste Action Plan for a Circular Economy?

To facilitate moving up the waste hierarchy, VOICE recommends the phasing in of a per capita residual waste target and the setting of reuse/refill targets by sector. We also call for a legally binding packaging waste reduction target of 25 percent by 2025 and 50 percent by 2030.

With the goal of incentivising more effective separation of commercial waste, we recommend that all commercial entities be required to install three-bin systems. We also call for the introduction of a ‘pay by weight’ system for commercial waste.  

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To enhance the effectiveness of Ireland’s Extended Producer Liability scheme, we call for 2% of REPAK’s turnover each year to be invested into reuse systems. Additionally, we recommend that the financial responsibility for litter clean-up and street bin management should fall on producer/food services using disposable, on-the-go packaging, be it plastic or non-plastic. With the goal of preventing rate rises for customers, we call for any revenue decrease to waste companies due to the introduction of a Deposit Return Scheme to be covered through an increase in subsidies from REPAK.

To tackle greenwashing claims and misleading practices, VOICE argues that all confusing packaging labels be banned and that all packaging should clearly state in which bin it should be placed.  

Recognising the rising tide of Ireland’s zero waste movement, we recommend the adoption of a Community Based Social Marketing (CBSM) approach to better understand the barriers and benefits associated with moving towards a zero-waste future. Taking a lead from the progress made by communities such as Capannori in Tuscany, we offer to develop and run a Zero Waste Communities Programme, using our expertise to aid towns across Ireland. Finally, we call for increased promotion of reuse at civic amenity sites.

What were our considerations for the Climate Action Plan?

In addition to many of the measures already mentioned, this submission emphasises the opportunities that exist to support the decarbonisation of Ireland’s waste sector. VOICE stresses the climate mitigation potential of expanding access to organic bins and shifting towards a reuse/refill system.

We recommend that Government takes a leading role in reducing waste creation at source, harnessing its public purchasing power to favour reusable options over disposable items. Investment in new infrastructure that makes it easy for individuals and businesses to choose reuse must also be provided.

You can read our submission here on this website in 'Policy & Research'.

Article by Sean McLoughlin