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Minimising waste and emissions – Ireland embraces a circular future

While Australia does the dithering act and has to be dragged to the action table of adopting Circular Economy principles, other countries are getting on with it pronto. One of them is Ireland. 

In: Ireland Passes Nationwide Circular Economy Act To Minimise Its Waste And Emissions, (Australian Circular Economy Hub news, August 15th, 2022), Tamanna Wadhwani writes that: Initiatives like single-use packaging levies, incentives for sustainable alternatives, waste management enforcements and fossil fuel reduction will be introduced to drive the country towards a circular future.

The Irish Government passed the Circular Economy and Miscellaneous Provisions Act 2022 recently in a landmark move, making it an integral part of the nation’s law. The Act lays the groundwork necessary for Ireland to steer away from its ‘take-make-dispose’ linear model and towards more sustainable means of production and consumption.

Some significant changes being introduced under this Act include: 

  • Levies on all single-use packaging with the aim of progressively phasing out all single-use packaging from the supply chain 
  • Incentives for the use of sustainable alternatives such as reusable products and making sustainable options more accessible 
  • Mandates on the segregation of commercial waste  
  • Ending the issuing of new licenses for the extracting and mining of coal, oil, and gas. 

“Through a mix of economic incentives and smarter regulation we can achieve far more sustainable patterns of production and consumption that move us away from the patterns of single-use and throw-away materials and goods that are such a wasteful part of our economic model now,” says Eamon Ryan, the Minister of the Environment, Climate and Communications

As the nation prepares to phase out single-use packaging, one of the main targets will be to become the world’s first country to eliminate the use of disposable coffee cups — an industry that currently sends around 200 million cups to landfill every year. 

“We have to re-think the way we interact with the goods and materials we use every day if we are to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions because 45% of those emissions come from producing those goods and materials,” says Ryan. 

With the introduction of this Act, the country has placed the circular economy on a statutory footing, solidifying its importance in Irish domestic law.