When we think about waste, most people think about the bins we put out to be collected each week or the litter on our roads and scattered in the countryside. We don’t worry about where it goes, as long as it is taken away. As they say, out of sight, out of mind.
However, proper waste management is the responsibility of all of us.
In Ireland, we generate nearly 20 million tonnes of waste each year, of which 1 million tonnes is food waste. Much of this waste is preventable, reusable, repairable or recyclable. We need to look at waste not as something to bury or to burn, but as a resource to be reused or refabricated. As they say, one man’s rubbish is another man’s treasure.
The EU is issuing new guidelines and recycling targets for all Member States looking for 70% recycling level for all municipal waste by 2030. The EU and Ireland as well supports the circular economy to ensure the proper management of valuable renewable and non-renewable resources. For instance, mobile phones contain many valuable natural resources such as gold which can be extracted to be used again.
We all must be mindful of the Earth’s limited resources and promote innovative thinking and effective eco-design of new products. This can be done only through the behavioural change of government, businesses and individuals alike.
What is VOICE doing?
- VOICE represents the Environmental Pillar on the Regional Waste Advisory Council, which is drawing up three new regional waste plans
- VOICE wrote the Environmental Pillar Submission for the draft regional waste plans.
- VOICE spear-headed the establishment of the resource efficiency working group within the Environmental Pillar.
- VOICE advocates for the adoption of a deposit/refund scheme for drinks containers.
- VOICE opposes the construction of incinerators or Waste to Energy (WtE) plants.
- VOICE is pushing for zero-waste initiatives.
- What do all these recycling symbols mean?
- Our Disposable Economy
- The Big Upcycle
- How Can We Promote Zero Waste with the Poolbeg Incinerator?
- Green Your First Day of School
- SME’s Save Money by Going Green
- Support a Container Deposit/Refund Scheme
School projects for primary and transition year students.
Confused about what to put into your recycling bin…?read more
Voice and TCD Enviro Soc host a Food Rescue Lunch at TCD!read more
Tweet Mindy O’Brien, coordinator of VOICE, spoke to Noel McGuinness of NearFM on January 13th about waste prevention in 2017. Asumptions about cost, excessive bureaucracy, convenience, practicality…all are delved into in this interview which explores food waste packaging, the repair industry, and the use of reuseable coffee cups! Contrary to Noel’s assumption, food waste packaging is actually disimproving as we are now seeing “bananas, avocados and oranges in plastic”. Fruits with such think skins surely don’t require an extra layer of plastic, a plastic that is in fact very difficult to recycle. What’s more, the packaging may encourage us to buy more than we need, causing us to waste food a few days later – not what we need when we know we Irish are throwing out 25% of our fruit and veg. However, many people out there assume that packaged food is generally cheaper. In fact, the opposite is more often than not true; it is often cheaper to buy unpackaged! Mindy’s example of packaged cheese costing 50 cent more per kilo than the smaller, unpackaged amount would really make one think. What’s the lesson in this anecdote? Check what’s cheaper – don’t assume buying food pre-packaged will save you money. 2017 will hopefully see a surge in the repair industry in Ireland. Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) take broken electrical items, but will not repair them. However, Repaircafe will. This is a free service where for one day, a group of volunteers come together to repair things for free. Ireland had its very own Repair Cafe until “prohibitively expensive insurance” and liability issues unfortunately forced it to close. This is an example of bureaucracy putting a spanner in the cogs of transition – however luckily a new endeavour has sprung up in Ireland! Put a note in your diary for March 11th 2017 – when Fixjam will come to Jigsaw, Dublin. The repair industry exists, and if it’s going to grow, we need to use it. Finally we got to the issue that is sending 650 million cups to landfill a year, and that’s just in Ireland. Yes, you guessed it – the scourge of non-recyclable coffee cups. A budding campaign is beginning in Ireland, the Conscious Cup Campaign. This group of individuals that met on the Zero Waste Facebook page are taking on the industry, by urging cafés and shops to accept reuseable cups and offer a discount to those who use them. A simple tweak, but one made all the more difficult to implemen,t as the problem is in part down to the coffee suppliers who often supply free cups with the coffee. The question is – will cafés take a hit to the wallet if they can provide a social and environmental benefit? We hope so, but only time will tell. So what can you do today to begin the change and spread the trends that will only grow in the future? Why not invest in a practical Stojo? While you’re at it, plant the idea of getting a discount for using your own cup in your local café? The more the idea is normalised, the more palatable it will become for the industry. Let us know how you get on! Leave the plastic in the supermarket and opt for unpackaged – your bank account will...read more
Tweet Christmas has traditionally been a time of celebration and somewhat over-indulgence. Images of a Christmas tree shining with lights and baubles and a roaring fire with stockings hanging from the mantel are brought to mind. However, in our endeavours to make our homes festive and our stomachs full, we can overlook the amount of waste that the festive season brings. Figures from Repak show that in Ireland, our packaging waste increases by up to 25% over the holiday season, with a staggering 74,000 tonnes of used glass, paper and cardboard being produced (that’s 44 kilos of waste per household!). We get through 6 million rolls of wrapping paper, 50 million bottles of beer, 51 million beer cans, 3 million spirit bottles, 23 million wine bottles and 20 million soft drink cans. But it’s not just the packaging waste, the amount of food waste increases significantly as well, particularly for foods that are deemed traditional but not always relished at the Christmas Table. Another growing issue is the surplus of gifts at Christmas and the waste these also produce. With Deloitte research showing nearly 6,000,000 gifts go to children and WEEE Ireland estimating that there are over 20 million waste batteries lying in households on Christmas Day alone, the statistics for our small population are mounting… and that’s without considering all those pairs of unwanted socks! So, how can we help eliminate this excess waste without dampening our yuletide cheer? Give your loved ones a gift of an experience, such as tickets to a show, a canal boat ride, flying lessons or wildlife watching. Give a gift you make yourself, such as jams, chutneys and mince pies. Re-use the wool from old jumpers to make new ones. Avoid buying over-packaged items and re-use existing gift bags, wrapping paper or ribbons. Personalise the gift by making the wrapping yourself. For example, re-use fabric for wine bottle bags or newspaper for wrapping and paper bows. Make your own Christmas crackers from toilet or kitchen rolls or your own decorations using old jars, bottles, fabric and newspaper. Pinterest has lots of great examples and it’s a great way to get the whole family involved. Upcycle your old Christmas decorations to match your new décor. Re-use and upcycle biscuit and sweet tins and glass jars and bottles to use as storage containers the rest of the year. Use rechargeable batteries and ensure any regular batteries are recycled. Many local supermarkets, libraries and WEEE collection centres have collection boxes. If you have a real Christmas tree, please recycle it at a designated tree recycling centre. Recycle plastic, cardboard and paper that cannot be re-used and use bottle banks. Make delicious meals using leftovers, including nutritious soups and chocolate brownies with cranberry sauce. Heading out for that seasonal cuppa? Don’t forget your reusable coffee cup. Another bonus to reducing your consumption is also the savings on your wallet… now that’s something we can all be cheerful...read more
The Ballymore Eustace Tidy Towns group took part in one of our Food Rescue Events with top chef, Gillian Duff.read more
VOICE had a great day at the ‘Waste Not Want Not’ fair on October 18th helping to spread the word about food waste and its impact on the environment.read more
Come and join the Ballymore Eustace Tidy Towns Group for a Food Rescue Event on Friday, 21st October at 7:30 p.m.read more
In honour of National Reuse Month this October, Cashel is rowing in to promote creative consumption.read more