The design phase of products is critical in driving effective reuse and recycling. Many CRNI members are finding it increasingly difficult to repair or refurbish goods, due to poor product design.
CRNI urges the Government to support the work undertaken via the Circular Economy package to support better design for reuse and recycling. We would also encourage leadership and innovation in this area through Ireland’s own design and manufacturing industry.
Too many products are still consigned to energy recovery or landfill that could have been easily retained within the circular economy.
CRNI is encouraging a range of incentives to divert these goods back into the Circular Economy, including Producer Responsibility Initiatives (PRI) for mattresses and furniture, levies on single use items, and a fair pay by weight system. We also seek to address soft barriers by raising awareness of reuse and recycling outlets and encouraging innovation in the collection of goods for reuse directly from householders or via Civic Amenity Sites.
Driving demand for reused goods is key to the long term success of the reuse sector. Research in Ireland has identified that negative perceptions of reused goods can be a barrier.
To overcome these, we are seeking support from Government in promoting reuse, through consumer behaviour campaigns and stronger leadership in its own procurement decisions. CRNI will also work to improve the procurement capacity of its members. In addition, Government is encouraged to support better access to retail space and marketing funds for reused goods.
In order to meet the objectives of the Circular Economy package, it is critical that funding for reuse is put on a sustainable footing. It is also a legal obligation under the current Waste Framework Directive to prioritise reuse ahead of all other tiers of the hierarchy.
This means finding alternative and sustainable sources of funding to the Environment Fund, which is spread too widely and will continue to decline with the success of any levies it depends on (e.g. landfill levy). We also believe that a national reuse target would help to provide recognition and drivers for reuse activities in Ireland.
Many of our members in the community recycling sector deal with a narrow scope of materials (e.g. mattresses, WEEE) and are small scale by nature. However, these organisations currently face the same indemnifications and permit requirements as large scale commercial recyclers.
CRNI is seeking recognition of the niche role these organisations play in the form of a separate permitting system or relaxation on indemnifications.
One of the key services provided by community based reuse and recycling organisations is quality jobs and training opportunities. However, labour activation schemes are becoming increasingly restrictive or inaccessible.
Greater flexibility of these schemes would unlock some of the significant potential for growth of this sector. Better recognition and coordination of social enterprise is also required at a national level, supported by a cohesive policy. This should ensure that social enterprise is afforded at least the same business supports as those provided to mainstream micro, small and medium enterprise sector.
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