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Higher ambition needed in our Circular Economy – Bruton

10th September 2021 - Richard Bruton TD

Following the publication of an EPA report highlighting Ireland’s declining recycling rates due to a rise in packaging waste, now is the time for higher ambition, a Fine Gael TD has said.

Deputy Richard Bruton said, “It is disappointing to read in the EPA report that less than one third of plastic packaging was recycled in 2019, we must do better.”

“However, this can easily be changed through better recycling practices in our homes, especially now that all plastics including soft plastics can be recycled.”

Earlier this year, a Draft Strategy on the Circular Economy was submitted by Deputy Bruton to the Climate Action Joint Oireachtas Committee. The strategy seeks to set ambitious targets for Ireland, including:

  • Halve food waste within five years
  • Halve the use of extracted raw materials and residual waste by 2030
  • No plastics to municipal incineration by 2030
  • Double the size of the reuse sector within five years

The Chairperson of the Fine Gael Parliamentary Party said, “Raising the ambition to reach higher targets will require roadmaps in each sector that rethink how we make and use products from the earliest selection of materials and design to their final end of life.

“The urgency of change is highlighted by a number of stark facts; Ireland generates 22% more waste per head (at 600kg) than the EU average. One third of all municipal waste is food, generating the equivalent carbon emissions of one million cars. Recycling has stagnated over the past decade. Only one third of plastics put on the market are recyclable.

“There are potential big wins for Ireland in the food, construction and retail sectors. Circular Economy thinking should become a central spine of our climate planning. The new pathway will demand restructuring of the waste collection sector, and support for the emergence of new markets which improve the utilisation of assets and prolong the useful life of products and materials.”

The strategy sets out some very practical early steps that should be taken:

  • Establish green procurement in all public purchasing and investment within two years
  • Establish producer responsibility for waste for mattresses, paints, and textiles
  • Require soft plastics to be accepted in Green Bins from 2022.
  • Ban “Best before” and “Sell by” labels on food.
  • Set a requirement that 20% of floor space in larger supermarkets cater for people who bring their own containers
  • Build a Regional Network of Rediscovery Centres, modelled on that in Ballymun.

“The challenge is one that can unite all parts of our community in the effort, rather than pit one group against another”, Deputy Bruton concluded.

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