The Market Development Group was established in 2004 and was made up of representatives of the relevant public and private sector stakeholders. It was tasked with developing markets for recyclables in Ireland in line with a commitment contained in the policy statement, Delivering Change (2002). The Programme identified new uses and markets for recyclable material and secondary recycled products. While the Programme’s primary focus was on paper, plastics and organics, there was also an opportunity for initiatives in respect of recycled materials resulting from other waste streams.
A key goal of the Market Development Group was to promote more re-use of the recycled materials that are recovered within Ireland. The widespread provision of separate collections for dry recyclables, the increase in the number of bring banks and civic amenity sites and the increased awareness of the environmental benefits of recycling have contributed to a surge in materials recovery in recent years.
In 2008, the Department funded the rx3 project to implement the Market Development Programme for Waste Resources. Its aim was to develop markets for recyclable materials and its approach required a lifecycle consideration of the materials and was encapsulated by the slogan – rethink, recycle and remake.
The work of the Group and the rx3 project provided a valuable platform for further policy development around resource efficiency and job creation in Ireland. The outputs of the project are contained in the final report published in July 2015. They have been referenced extensively in the department’s public consultation ‘Exporting a Resource Opportunity’ which ended in March 2016 and will be helpful in informing Ireland’s response to the European Commission’s Circular Economy Package, due to come into effect during 2017.