I am determined to introduce reforms in order to promote reduction, reuse, recycling and optimal final disposal options, in line with the principles of the “circular economy”, which seeks to promote the sustainable use of the resources of our planet. In particular I see opportunities for industry and consumers to respond and make positive changes to how we use plastic and other packaging.
Ireland’s Climate Action Plan 2019 has ten dedicated actions which focus on waste and the Circular Economy. Our focus will be on designing out waste, prioritising prevention of waste at every opportunity through eco-design, reuse and repair, market restriction and levies.
Ireland is working closely with other Member States in the European Union. We are working on the development of policy instruments which shall include:
- Regulatory changes;
- Market incentives;
- Promotion, labelling and the provision of information on sustainable practices;
- Developmental work with the sector to improve our capacity to deliver our goals.
Included in the regulatory changes will be the amended Waste Framework Directive which promotes the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) model and aims to make it more effective through minimum common requirements.
As part of the Climate Action Plan, we will identify opportunities to strengthen the regulatory and enforcement frameworks and structures for the waste collection and management system, to maximise the collection of clean, segregated materials for reuse and/or recycling from all households and businesses, and to incentivise consumers to reduce, reuse and recycle.
The Climate Action Plan also commits to regulating and incentivising producers of waste, particularly packaging, to ensure the prevention of waste and the use of recycled materials in packaging product. The Plan states that the following steps will be necessary to deliver this action:
- Q3 2019: Pilot eco-modulation fees for packaging
- Q2 2020: New Packaging Waste Directive transposition
- Q1 2021: Implementation of full eco-modulated fees for packaging
A core opportunity for improving EPR measures is to develop economic incentives which favour circular products and business models.
Ahead of this, Repak members are taking steps to prevent and minimise the amount of packaging they require. With the assistance of the EPA, Repak’s Prevent and Save initiative has worked with Irish business to reduce packaging and to promote packaging improvements across industry. Under the initiative, specialist packaging technologists look for ways to optimise the packaging used and to minimise any resulting packaging waste. Further information can be found on www.repak.ie/preventandsave. However, it should also be noted that packaging is used by producers and retailers to protect and preserve goods and can help in preventing food and other product waste.
Under current Packaging Regulations, at least 60% of packaging waste must be recovered and 55% must be recycled. Repak is the approved producer responsibility compliance scheme for packaging in Ireland and it is tasked with meeting recovery and recycling targets established under the EU Packaging Directive. Repak recently confirmed that their members achieved an overall recycling rate of 68% for all materials and is ahead of the EU targets by 13%. Ireland’s official statistics are compiled by the EPA and will be published shortly. It is anticipated they will show that Ireland has continued to meet and exceeded the overall packaging waste recovery rate and the recycling rate targets since they came into force. The task ahead of Ireland now is to meet the increased targets that will come into force under the CELP.