Circular Economy Bill is published by the Government of Ireland
This landmark Bill puts the re-use of resources and reduced consumption at the heart of the Irish economy
This Wednesday, March 30, 2022, the Government of Ireland published the new Circular Economy Bill. The Bill builds on the 2020 Waste Action Plan for a Circular Economy and the 2021 Whole of Government Circular Economy Strategy.
“This bill aims to stop the wasteful pattern of using valuable resources once and then just binning them. From discouraging the use of single-use items to improving the process for allowing recycled materials onto the market, this legislation will support the development of sustainable products and business models across the economy”, says Ossian Smyth TD, Minister of State with responsibility for Communications and Circular Economy.
The publication of the bill places the Circular Economy strategy and National Food Loss Prevention Roadmap on statutory footing meaning that it is a legal requirement for the Government to develop and periodically update these two policies. The Bill also incentivises the use of reusable and recyclable alternatives to a range of wasteful single-use disposable packaging and enables the inclusion of targets in respect of re-used and repaired products and materials in waste management plans.
Moreover, the Circular Economy Bill calls time on coal exploration by ending the issuing of new licences for the exploration and mining of coal, lignite and oil shale. These, along with a variety of economic incentives (see the summary of the Bill below), puts the re-use of resources and reduced consumption at the heart of the Irish economy.
CIRCULÉIRE gave evidence on behalf of its members, during the Oireachtas pre-legislative scrutiny of the CE Bill in October 2021 (see an overview here) and welcomed the publication of this landmark Bill.
“The publication of the Circular Economy Bill enshrines in law the Government’s commitment to embedding circularity in Ireland’s economy. It is a key step towards creating regulatory certainty and establishing a supportive and enabling environment to accelerate Ireland’s transition to a circular economy. CIRCULÉIRE’s industry members look forward to engaging in forthcoming sectoral roadmap development and the creation of clear targets”, says Dr Geraldine Brennan, CIRCULÉIRE Lead and Head of Circular Economy in IMR.
The announcement of the Circular Economy Bill coincides with the European Commission’s publication of a package of new circular economy measures – namely proposals to broaden Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Regulation (ESPR) through the Sustainable Products Initiative, which aims to make almost all goods on the EU market more environmentally-friendly, energy-efficient and circular throughout their whole life-cycle. That is also the purpose of the new Strategy for Sustainable and Circular Textiles and measures to improve the environmental performance of construction products.
These national and European regulatory developments create clear and strong signals for Irish industry regarding the strategic importance of embracing a circular economy model.
A summary of the Bill:
- defines the Circular Economy for the first time in Irish domestic law
- incentivises the use of reusable and recyclable alternatives to a range of wasteful single-use disposable packaging and other items
- re-designates the existing Environment Fund as a Circular Economy Fund, which will remain ring-fenced to provide support for environmental and circular economy projects
- introduces mandatory segregation and incentivised charging regime for commercial waste, similar to what exists for the household market. This will increase waste separation and support increased recycling rates
- provides for the GDPR-compliant use of a range of technologies, such as CCTV for waste enforcement purposes. This will support efforts to tackle illegal dumping and littering while protecting the privacy rights of citizens
- places the Circular Economy Strategy and National Food Loss Prevention Roadmap on a statutory footing, establishing a legal requirement for Governments to develop and periodically update these two policies
- streamlines the national processes for End-of-Waste and By-Products decisions, tackling the delays which can be encountered by industry, and supporting the availability of recycled secondary raw materials in the Irish market
- consolidates the Government’s policy of keeping fossil fuels in the ground – by introducing prohibitions on exploration for and extraction of coal, lignite and oil shale
CIRCULÉIRE is a public-private partnership co-created by Irish Manufacturing Research (IMR) and three strategic partners: the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications (DECC), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and EIT Climate-KIC. Together with industry partners CIRCULÉIRE aims to assist manufacturers and their supply chains to switch from linear to circular business models.
Read more about CIRCULÉIRE here.