The government’s publication on 16th April of two new policy consultations alongside a circular economy innovation grant scheme signals a turning point for the community based prevention, reuse, repair and recycling sector.
CRNI has been calling for more investment in this sector, which we estimate makes up more than half of all reuse activity in Ireland, through grants, tax relief or other mechanisms. We are therefore delighted to welcome the new Circular Economy Innovation Grant (CEIG) scheme, which is particularly aimed at community, voluntary and NGO based initiatives, and will be issued annually to innovative projects at the national or regional level.
The draft Whole of Government Circular Economy Strategy also recognises the social benefits and important role of social enterprises in the economic and social renewal of town and village centres as well as delivering on a circular economy. It sets out a new and ambitious target to bring Ireland’s circular material use rate to above the EU average by 2030, which will require all actors to work together to improve the design, reuse and repair of our everyday goods. It also includes goals to raise awareness about the Circular Economy and to help identify and overcome the barriers to developing a more circular economy in Ireland, both areas in which CRNI members are actively contributing.
Some particularly welcome initiatives include:
- the plan to look into a wider roll-out of a national circular economy branding. CRNI has been calling for a certification or quality mark for circular activities (in particular for reuse) based on the Green Enterprise pilot project ReMark.
- the plan to establish a national online platform as an authoritative source of information about the circular economy
- the commitment to including reused and repaired goods in relevant publicly funded initiatives in future policy in addition to other Green Public Procurement measures. Examples of green and social procurement with CRNI members can be found here.
- consideration of the potential of community-based initiatives such as Repair Hubs and ‘Libraries of Things’ and examining related liability issues
Finally, CRNI warmly welcomes the new EPA Circular Economy programme, building on 15 years of success of the National Waste Prevention Programme through which CRNI is funded. This has been a cornerstone of the sector and the main driving force behind prevention, reuse and repair to date. The broadening of scope to include new product groups from the EU Circular Economy Action Plan such as electronics & ICT and textiles, and increased focus on reuse, repair, digitalisation and the sharing economy will see the work of CRNI members further acknowledged and enhanced. CRNI looks forward to continued partnership and contribution to this programme.
These draft policies and new grant scheme will help to build on current levels of prevention, reuse and repair and move beyond simple compliance toward a circular economy with all of the social, environmental and economic benefits that it will bring. We look forward to contributing to this acceleration and exciting new times with our members.