Care of our planet must be at the heart of Project Ireland 2040

16th June 2021 - Richard Bruton TD

If present trends continue, it will take three planets for nature to replenish the materials we use each year, Fine Gael Dublin Bay North TD and Party Chair Richard Bruton has said. Deputy Bruton raised the need for more ambition in Ireland’s circular economy strategy in the Dáil this morning.

Deputy Bruton said, “The ‘Take, Make, Use, Dispose’ model has got an iron grip on the way we live our lives, and that has to change. The care of our planet must be at the heart of Project Ireland 2040, the government’s long-term overarching planning and investment strategy to make Ireland a better country for all of its people.

“Conserving, sharing, refurbishing and reusing are natural to us but we have drifted away from those practices and what we have of them is very fragile.

  • The food we waste each year in Ireland generates the same emissions as one million cars.
  • The plastic that wraps our lives so conveniently is rarely used a second time and generates emissions equivalent to half a million cars.
  • Every night two million bedrooms lie empty in the midst of a housing crisis.
  • All around us are items to be thrown away after use, non-repairable items, and rapid obsolescence.
  • Two thirds of what goes into black bins already has better uses available.

“The clue to how we might change is revealed in the fact that 80% of the environmental damage in the items we use is baked in at design stage. If we rethink our choices and their supply chain, we can have a different outcome. For many consumers the choice to purchase, use and reuse items in a manner consistent with the principle of circular economy is not available.

“While the climate challenge often sees sectors and communities pitted against one another, rethinking the way we meet our needs can offer a path where everyone can see a better future, if we reward the changes made for the better.”

The policy concept of the Circular Economy demands interventions far earlier in the chain than traditional waste policy embraces. It requires:

  • Creating new expectations of sustainability in the investment world and in the disclosures corporations make.
  • Setting new obligations for designers and manufacturers to minimise the impact of their entire supply chain, not just end of life disposal.
  • Reshaping how packaging and labelling is conceived and adapting marketing approaches to fit these requirements.
  • Reframing the options offered by distributors and retailers to facilitate new expectations of circular consumption.
  • Developing new options in consumer markets and ensuring access to accurate information to inform choices.

“Little of this territory has yet been developed in Ireland. We do not see a commitment to these investment and design strategies in either the public or private sector. We must set targets, develop concrete actions, and establish indicators that are reported regularly. And we need to see a substantial budget to support sectors to change for the betterment of our planet”, Deputy Bruton concluded.

 

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