Circular economy jobs and growth in Ireland

view all

Paul MacArtain from the Centre for Renewable Energy at Dundalk Institute of Technology in Ireland hosted a WASTECOSMART seminar to share the hands-on experiences of WASTECOSMART regions with sustainable waste management as well as best practices on how to reduce, re-use and recycle waste. 

The workshop, held on 19 May 2016, attracted over 20 participants interested in waste management and anaerobic digestion. WASTECOSMART experts Katharina Krell and Astrid Severin kicked off by putting waste management into the context of the EU regulatory framework and the new Circular Economy package. In recent years, the application of ambitious European legislation has been a key driver for higher recycling rates in Ireland. On the one hand, Ireland features high up in the European rankings; in 7th place with 44% material recycling. On the other hand, as in most European countries, the recycling of organic waste is still strongly lagging behind. Only 3% of Irish bio-waste is recycled through anaerobic digestion and composting. In this light, the workshop highlighted the role anaerobic digestion can play in recycling the organics stream from agriculture, Municipal Solid Waste and Source Separated Organics, thus avoiding landfilling or incineration.

 

The audience was particularly interested in understanding the ripple effects of a Circular Economy on the Irish economy. The experts from GreenMatters outlined the opportunities for growth and job creation not only in the recycling industry but also through local initiatives for re-use and repair of materials. Examples from the WASTECOSMART regions included the Repair Café initiative that has its roots in the Netherlands but started crossing the Dutch borders in 2013. Today, Repair Café is active in 950 cafés worldwide and in 2015 it saved 200,000 items from being thrown away. This hugely successful initiative extends the lifetime of everyday items to keep them longer in the economic cycle.

 

In Liverpool, Bulky Bob’s is collecting and refurbishing used furniture and white goods. The local initiative provides high-quality, low priced furniture to low income families. Since its creation, Bulky Bob’s has provided more than 200 local unemployed people with salaried training positions. Participants can become professional drivers, learn warehousing, administration or retail. Each year, 94% of Bulky Bob’s trainees enter sustainable work at the end of their training.

 

More information about the WASTECOSMART best practices can be found here.