National waste policy in Ireland over the last number of years was based on the plans and procedures outlined in A Resource Opportunity - Waste Management in Ireland. This policy is due to expire in mid-2020 and will be replaced by a new policy document, with a current working title of a 'Waste Action Plan for a Circular Economy'. The new policy will inform future cycles of waste policy and resource management plans and will provide a coherent framework in which sectoral policies, targets and objectives can be realised.
On 30 December 2019 Mr. Richard Bruton TD, Minister for Communications, Climate Action & Environment, launched a public consultation process to seek the views of the general public and interested stakeholders on the development of this Waste Action Plan for Ireland as part of the transition to a Circular Economy (i.e. one in which we keep resources in use for as long as possible, extracting the maximum value from them while in use, then recovering and regenerating products and materials at the end of each service life).
The consultation process, which was open from 30 December 2019 until 21 February 2020, covered a range of issues relevant to the development of a Waste Action Plan such as exploring measures to assist us with achieving our EU targets (current and future) while developing a more resource efficient economy. The Department received almost 280 submissions in response to the public consultation and has commenced the process of examining these submissions in detail. A detailed breakdown of the submissions received and topics covered will be provided in due course.
Alongside the launch of the public consultation process Minister Bruton also announced the establishment of a Waste Action Plan Advisory Group to assist in the drafting of the Action Plan. This Advisory Group will harness the potential and capacity of a broad range of sectors - public, business, environmental, and social - to guide strategic thinking and decision-making in the preparation of this next iteration of national waste policy. The Group is chaired by the Department of Communications, Climate Action & Environment. The Advisory Group has met on eight occasions and has discussed the following topics:
- The citizen engagement challenge
- Plastics and packaging policy
- Deposit and Return Schemes (DRS)
- Market structure
- Food waste
- Waste enforcement
- C and D Waste
- Waste actions for a circular economy
The Waste Action Plan, when delivered, will take the results of the public consultation process and the discussions of the Advisory Group into consideration. It will set out a range of aims and targets for the State and the measures by which we will achieve them while also matching the level of ambition in the Waste and Climate areas being shown across the EU, including the range of actions proposed in the European Green Deal, which was launched in December 2019.