Circular economy thinking should become a central spine of our climate planning, a Fine Gael TD has said.
A draft Circular Economy Strategy has been submitted by Deputy Richard Bruton to the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Environment and Climate Action.
The strategy seeks to set the following ambitious targets for Ireland:
- Halve food waste within 5 years
- Halve the use of extracted raw material and residual waste by 2030
- No plastics to municipal incineration by 2030
- Double the size of the reuse sector within 5 years
Deputy Bruton, who is Chairperson of the Fine Gael Parliamentary Party, said: “Raising our ambitions to set higher climate action targets will require roadmaps in all sectors that rethink how we make and use products from raw materials to final product; from a product’s cradle to its grave.
“The urgency of the change needed is highlighted in stark facts. At 600kg per person, Ireland generates 22% more waste per head annually than the EU average. One third of all municipal waste is food, with this generating the equivalent carbon emissions of one million cars. Recycling has also stagnated over the past decade, with only one third of plastics currently being put on the market recyclable.
“There is potential for big wins for Ireland in the food, building 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, as well as support for the emergence of new markets which improve the utilisation of assets or prolong the shelf-life of products and materials,” Deputy Bruton added.
The strategy sets out some very practical early steps that should be taken:
- Establish green procurement in all public purchasing and investment within 2 years.
- Establish producer responsibility for waste from 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 be for the sale of loose products purchased by people who bring reusable containers.
- Build a regional network of Rediscovery Centres.
“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.