Waste is a growing global problem. The World Bank estimates that 2.01 billion tonnes of waste is produced annually, and with rapid urbanisation and population growth, global waste generation is projected to increase by 70% over the next 30 years. Poor waste management has led to 33% of this waste finding its way into the waterways and oceans putting human, animal, and plant health in jeopardy.
In Ireland, in 2020, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) revealed that while there has been a 11% increase in recycling of municipal waste since 2016, waste generation has also risen by 11% including a significant increase in household waste.
Ireland still relies heavily on export markets for treatment of municipal waste, hazardous waste, packaging waste, biowastes, electronic and electrical waste. To sustainably address this growing challenge, the EPA has called for a shift to a circular economy.
Proper waste management can be costly but there are several creative ways through which communities can deal with the waste they generate, thereby protecting the environment.
On Tuesday, the Rediscovery Centre together with the SFI ADAPT Centre and the DCU Centre for Climate and Society held a Citizen’s Think-In workshop with members of the Ballymun community. The workshop focused on how to create a circular economy through waste prevention, reuse, and repair. The two-hour event took place at the Rediscovery Centre in Ballymun. It featured a tour of the recycle and repair work being done by the centre, an interactive discussion on sustainable waste management, and a fun activity guided by creative word prompts.
Some of the Circular Economy enterprises at the Rediscovery Centre
The Rediscovery Centre, Ireland’s centre for circular economy, hosts four circular economy social enterprises that innovatively repair, redesign, and find new uses for unwanted products. They are;
This is a enterprise that restores, redesigns, repurposes and/or turns used and unwanted furniture into beautiful pieces that can be reused.
An enterprise turns and or redesigns textile waste clothes into beautiful clothing designs.
This is an enterprise that collects paint recycling centres and recycles it to create new colours.
A social enterprise that restores used and broken bicycles.
Together with the DCU Centre for Climate and Society and the ADAPT Centre, the Rediscovery Centre facilitated the public engagement that saw community members brainstorm ideas on how to recycle waste to prolong their use and create an environmentally sustainable Ballymun by 2030.
However, they noted that there is a skills and knowledge gap of how to implement these ideas. They also called for attitude change regarding unwanted and used items, suggesting that instead of buying, using, and disposing off, swapping items would be a more sustainable approach to waste management.
Besides the topical discussion, participants were given a tour of the work the Rediscovery Centre is doing regarding restoring, repurposing, and recycling unwanted items. They were also asked to share their thoughts based on three statements; I like…… What if…… I will…… based on the circular economy discussion. The outcomes are summarised below.
This project was funded by the Quality Promotion Office, Dublin City University