Government signals radical changes for waste and recycling

Cabinet approves heads of Circular Economy Bill to cut food waste and boost separation

The Cabinet has approved the outline of a Circular Economy Bill which will curb a wide range of single-use products and ensure more robust waste management, including greater household segregation of items, and reduce food waste.

The legislation will prompt a radical change to production and consumption, according to the Government – while also facilitating greater clamping down on littering and dumping.

In addition, “it will consolidate Government’s policy of keeping fossil fuels in the ground by introducing prohibitions on exploration for and extraction of coal, lignite and oil shale”.

The Bill will ensure "all households have access to and use segregated waste services and incentivise the commercial sector to increase waste separation to enable recycling of a wider range of items", Minister for the Environment and Climate Action Eamon Ryan said.


It will also incentivise reuse and use of recyclable alternatives to a range of wasteful single-use disposable packaging and other items.

CCTV and drones

The legislation provides for the GDPR-compliant use of technologies, such as CCTV and drones, for waste enforcement purposes – particularly in supporting efforts to tackle illegal dumping and littering.

The "national food loss prevention roadmap" is to be put on a statutory footing, ensuring it remains a priority for future governments; an acknowledgment that if Ireland is to meet demanding climate targets over the next decade it must pursue much more ambitious waste reduction and recycling, as the country continues to generate the highest volume of waste per capita in the EU.

The Bill will “streamline the processes for end-of-waste and byproducts decisions, tackling the delays which can be encountered by industry”, the Minister said. It will be the mechanism to implement many of the actions in the Government’s new waste action plan and its forthcoming circular economy strategy, with the latter being put on a statutory footing.

“The Government is committed to a more ambitious, transformative approach to production and consumption to achieve a systemically circular economy,” Mr Ryan said.

“It is vital that waste and resource use are minimised by default; that good design preserves product value for as long as possible, via durability and repair; and that, when a product has reached the end of its life, its parts can be readily used again and again to create further useful products,” he added.

Climate ambitions

“This Bill, along with the circular economy strategy which we will publish shortly, will replace our current, unsustainable ‘take, make, dispose’ model with a circular economy that also helps us meet our climate ambitions,” Mr Ryan said.

EU countries are adopting circular economy practices in line with the European green deal which has the circular economy at its heart.

Meanwhile, the forthcoming byelection in Dublin Bay South is due to be held on July 8th.

A writ will be moved in the Dáil on Wednesday at 12.34pm where the date will be set, signalling the official start of the byelection campaign.

Multiple sources confirmed that July 8th is now the preferred date for the election.

The candidates are James Geoghegan for Fine Gael, Deirdre Conroy for Fianna Fáil, Ivana Bacik for Labour, Claire Byrne for the Green Party, Lynn Boylan for Sinn Féin, Sarah Durcan for the Social Democrats, Brigid Purcell for PBP/Solidarity, Mairéad Tóibín for Aontu, Justin Barrett for the National Party and Independents Peter Dooley and Mannix Flynn.

The byelection was prompted by the resignation of former minister for housing Eoghan Murphy.

This article was edited on June 18th, 2021.

Kevin O'Sullivan

Kevin O'Sullivan

Kevin O'Sullivan is Environment and Science Editor and former editor of The Irish Times