Funder – This project was funded under the EPA Research Programme 2014-2020. The EPA Research Programme is a Government of Ireland initiative funded by the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment.

Duration of Project: March 2019 to March 2021 (2 years)

Lead on Project: Clean Technology Centre (CTC)

Other Partners – Rediscovery Centre, Community Reuse Network Ireland (CRNI), and the Eastern Midlands Waste Region

Status – Completed

Introduction:

Recent EU legislation aims to strengthen reuse in all Member States and asks Member States to measure reuse, with the option of setting national targets in the future. By gathering information on the scale and size of the reuse sector in Ireland, we can benchmark and compare our reuse sector against others. This study assessed the capability of the Irish reuse sector to supply the data necessary for quantifying the extent of reuse in Ireland and informing Irish policymakers on the steps required to support the sector to report in the future.

Background:

The environmental, economic and social benefits of reuse are well documented. Reuse is one of the main elements of the EU’s Circular Economy Package. Reuse is classified as a waste prevention activity and sits in the top tier of the waste hierarchy, as it keeps materials and products in the economy for longer and it can prevent raw materials from entering the production/consumption cycle by reducing consumption.

Studies indicate that reuse is an important potential action that people can take to combat climate change, which is the main threat facing the planet today. There are also social and economic benefits to reuse, which the EU is prioritising, “including jobs and growth, the investment agenda, climate and energy, the social agenda and industrial innovation”.

As a means of promoting reuse in the EU, the revised WFD (EU, 2018, Article 29) states that Member States must take “appropriate measures to prevent waste generation and monitor and assess progress in the implementation of such measures”. Each Member State will have to measure/quantify reuse within its borders and will then have to implement all policy supports to ensure that EU targets are met and continue to be met.

Objectives of Project:

The purpose of this research project was to develop methodologies for the quantitative and qualitative assessment of the reuse sector in Ireland to meet this important EU requirement. It provided policymakers, stakeholders, and practitioners with an overview of the non-waste reuse sector of Ireland, offering vital information as Ireland and the EU move to implement reuse targets and support reuse as an essential tool for climate action and in the circular economy. 

Project Outputs:

Reuse activities were defined in line with the Commission’s Implementing Decision and reflecting emerging trends. The project team developed a database of 1,276 reuse practitioners in Ireland which were grouped under seven categories. Data on the number of items sold or swapped in a year at the point of exchange, under 28 product category subheadings, was gathered from a representative sample of practitioners along with relevant national macro data. This unit data was converted to weight through conversion tables and scaled up to obtain a national reuse figure for Ireland of 6.52kg per person (range 6.17–7.09kg per person) based on 2019-2020 data. 

The report included a number of key recommendations on the methodology and the requirement for incentivisation or support for the sector to ensure sufficient data can be produced and reported on regularly.

For further information see:  

Partners
Clean Technology Centre (CTC)
Eastern Midlands Waste Region (EMWR)
Community Resource Network Ireland (CRNI)