A draft Circular Economy Strategy, which outlines the need for targets to tackle food waste, has been submitted by deputy Richard Bruton to the Oireachtas Committee on Climate Action.

A circular economy thinking should become a “central spine of our climate planning” according to the Fine Gael TD.

Raising ambitions

The strategy seeks to set the following targets for Ireland:

  • Halve food waste within five 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 five years.

Deputy Bruton, who is the former Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, 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.”

Measures to tackle food waste

Circular economy thinking should become a central spine of our climate planning, according to the deputy.

“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,” he added.

The strategy sets out some early steps that should be taken:
  • 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;
  • Establish green procurement in all public purchasing and investment within two years;
  • Establish producer responsibility for waste from mattresses, paints and textiles;
  • 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.

DECC strategy

The Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications has a public consultation open on its draft Circular Economy Strategy.

The Programme for Government committed to a range of actions that support the transition to a circular economy.

In September 2020, the department published the Waste Action Plan for a Circular Economy.

One of the first actions to be taken is the development of a high-level, whole of government Circular Economy Strategy “to set a course for Ireland to transition across all sectors and at all levels of government toward circularity”.

The closing date for submissions is June 11.