The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has recently released two guides to coincide with the launch of the Rediscovery Centre in Ballymun by Minister for Communications, Climate and Environment, Denis Naughten TD. The guides were developed to support Ireland’s reuse culture and through research studies funded by the EPA.
The reuse sector has grown steadily in Ireland in recent years, providing employment opportunities and developing a market place where a range of items from business and community throughout the public and private sector can be traded and exchanged in creative and imaginative ways. These guides help to highlight best practice and identify opportunities that the reuse sector provides to help extend the useful economic life of many items.
From left to right: Dr. Sarah Miller (CEO Rediscovery Centre), Louise Connolly (RPS Report Author), Dr. Alice Wemaere (EPA Research Manager), Denis Naughten TD (Minister for Communications, Climate Change and Environment), Dr. Dorothy Stewart (EPA Project Manager) and Olivier Gaillot (RPS Report Author)
One of the reports, entitled ‘A Review of Waste/Resource Exchange Systems and Good Practice Guide’, aims to encourage exchange on a wider scale. It offers businesses and other interested parties practical advice about setting up and implementing a waste/resource exchange system, including best practice guidelines.
Louise Connolly, RPS, author of the Review Report, said:
“A waste/resource exchange system enables the reuse or exchange of items that would otherwise become waste and potentially be sent to landfills. The aim of the good practice guide is to demonstrate how new and existing waste/resource exchange organisations can be set up and operated to the highest standards”
The other guide, ‘Material Reuse Good Practice’ provides householders with the information necessary to identify items that have potential for reuse and recycling rather than replacement. Members of the reuse community in Ireland contributed to the project by sharing their knowledge and experience via surveys and interviews and by participating in workshops.
Growth in the Reuse sector offers benefits for economy, society and the environment. Reuse brings together two areas, namely reuse and waste management to find ways to extend the useful life of items and in doing so prevent waste that will need to be managed/ disposed. Although Ireland’s recycling rate of 34% exceeds the EU28 average of 28%, there are opportunities to increase the level of Reuse to reduce the amount of waste going to overburdened and fewer landfills and the need for further resources to make more new products.
Europe is moving from being a linear economy using a take – make – dispose model towards becoming a circular economy where resources are kept in use for as long as possible. This maximises value from resources whilst in use, and recovers and regenerates products and materials at the end of each service life. Waste/Resource exchange systems are an evolving concept that support and deliver on the goals of the circular economy therefore it is important that a framework is in place in the form of a good practice guide and supporting factsheets to demonstrate how new and existing organisations can be set up and operate to the highest standards and to assist those engaging with waste/resource exchanges to do so in an informed and compliant manner.
The study identified a number of barriers to waste/resource exchanges many of which are addressed in the good practice guide. Additional recommendations outlined in the final report focus on: the simplification of legislation and reduction of red tape, support on access to materials, promotion and awareness of existing supports, review of funding structures to facilitate long term strategy and planning, use of instruments/incentives/tools/templates to encourage reuse and waste resource exchange, a sectoral approach to (Business to Business) B2B waste/resource exchange and engagement with industry representative bodies and awareness support to B2B raw material selection/consideration.