Programme Manager, Circular Economy Programme, Environmental Protection Agency
The Circular Economy Programme drives Ireland’s move to a circular economy — where businesses, citizens and the public sector reduce resource use, prevent waste and achieve sustainable economic growth.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) delivers Ireland’s Circular Economy Programme. The Programme has a broad range of activities — producing national statistics; leading the national food waste prevention programme; providing funding support; working through partnerships; making regulatory decisions supporting circular practices.
National waste and circular economy statistics
Ireland has challenging targets under EU legislation, and the Circular Economy Programme is providing evidence of our distance to targets. There are immediate challenges to meeting 2025 targets for plastic packaging (50%) and municipal waste (55%) recycling.
The National Waste Statistics webpages have the latest statistics. The Circular Economy Programme also delivers national municipal waste characterisation surveys. This measures what’s in household and commercial kerbside bins; the latest survey results will be published in September and gives valuable information to regulators and policymakers.
Our last survey in 2018 highlighted very poor segregation practices, especially in commercial bins. This is impacting Ireland’s municipal recycling rate which has stagnated at 41%. New regulations are coming into force this year which will require commercial operators to have three bins, similar to households.
New regulations are coming into force this year which
will require commercial operators to have
three bins, similar to households.
National food waste prevention programme
Ireland generates about 800 kilotonnes of food waste annually; and under UN SDG 12.3, we committed to halving food waste by 2030. Stop Food Waste is the consumer-facing element of the Circular Economy Programme’s food waste prevention programme. Stop Food Waste has an ongoing and evidence-led communications campaign including National Stop Food Waste Day on 1st March.
For businesses, the current focus is providing support to measure food waste consistently using the EPA’s standard methodology. A Food Waste Charter will be launched this summer, and we will be working with government, State Agencies and business representative organisations to ensure that food businesses sign up for the Charter and commit to measuring food waste, reporting annually and working to reduce food waste.
Ireland regulation for circularity
The Circular Economy Programme has regulatory decision-making responsibilities including end-of-waste, by-products and authorisation of waste licences. A challenge in regulating for circularity is keeping pace with innovation in this dynamic policy area while protecting the environment and human health.
To support circularity in the construction sector the Programme is developing national criteria for three construction streams — recycled aggregates, site-won asphalt and greenfield soil and stone. These criteria will be an important resource in helping to reduce construction waste which is currently over 8 million tonnes.