Waste Reduction & Prevention

EPA Waste Prevention


Courtesy of Comhar SDC
Courtesy of Comhar SDC

On the 3rd June 2010, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) hosted a national conference showcasing waste prevention and resource efficiency programmes being carried out by local authorities as part of the National Waste Prevention Programme.

Between 2006 and 2010, the EPA has funded 17 local authorities working in the Local Authority Prevention Programme. The objectives of the programme are to build capacity in local authorities for the promotion of resource efficiency and waste prevention at a local level for the benefit of their localities. The conference provided plenty of opportunity for discussion and time to visit the exhibition area, featuring results and case studies from all the participants in the Programme.

Delegates at the conference were told that based on experience the key to success is having people with local expertise driving waste prevention at grassroots level. The EPA’s aim is to help to develop a network of prevention experts in Ireland’s local authorities that have the expertise and motivation to work with business, public organisations and communities, to reduce the volume of waste generated for disposal and for recycling.

Projects include waste prevention and resource efficiency in a wide range of sectors including community, commercial and business organisations - such as shopping centres, a regional airport, hospitals, construction, farms, a university, public organisations, pubs and schools.

The conference heard how local authorities have been successfully demonstrating resource efficiency techniques and the associated savings opportunities, in relation to waste, water and energy, working with local businesses and other organisations, including their own local authority facilities. The programme has successfully demonstrated savings opportunities, techniques and some highlights from the programme up until the end of 2010 included:

More than 2,300 tonnes waste prevented or diverted;

Over 37,500 m3 water consumption reduced;

1,530,000 kWh energy savings;

€873,000 direct cost savings;

1,100 people trained (26 have completed the HETAC Accredited Waste Prevention Course);

85 different premises involved in prevention, 295 audits conducted;

Delegates were told that with the financial difficulties now being faced by Irish businesses, public sector organisations and households generally, the time is ripe for the promotion of resource efficient methods of conducting business and personal activities. The conference provided an opportunity to hear how local authorities are working to encourage these organisations to reduce their consumption of materials, water and energy and to make sure that they are getting the best value from the resources they do use. Promises of potential cost savings from no-cost or low-cost resource efficiency or waste prevention measures need to be clearly demonstrated with case studies from peer organisations before they will be more widely adopted.

The conference also addressed the policy relevance of resource efficiency and waste prevention, in particular the challenges arising out of the implementation of the waste prevention requirements in the new EU Waste Framework Directive. Waste Prevention is to be preferred to any waste management option - do not generate the waste. By not generating waste, we can eliminate the need to handle, transport, treat and dispose of waste. We can also avoid having to pay for these services. The aim is to deliver substantive results on waste prevention and minimisation and integrate a range of initiatives addressing awareness-raising, technical and financial assistance, training and incentive mechanisms.

The programme is one of a whole family of National Waste Prevention Programme projects including Green Business, Green Hospitality Award, Green Healthcare, Packaging Prevention and Green Home. The aim of the prevention programme, which is being led by the EPA, is to deliver substantive results on waste prevention (including water and energy) and to integrate a range of initiatives addressing awareness-raising, technical and financial assistance, training and incentive mechanisms.

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