How to reap the rewards of the circular economy

Adopting a circular economy strategy could help one local authority in Northern Ireland save up to £3m a year, according to new research.

The research by consultants Eunomia claimed changes to Derry City and Strabene District Council’s waste management strategy could create 50 additional jobs and save the council the equivalent of £49 per household a year.

It was commissioned by the council and Zero Waste North East and forms part of a final strategy, which was adopted by the council in December, which aims to keep resources and products in use for as long as possible, extracting maximum value before recovering and regenerating them at the end of their life cycle.

The strategy recommends the local authority support home composting and reusable nappies for residents, as both are ‘notable components of the council’s residual waste at present’.

It also highlights the opportunity for social enterprises to get involved with reusable nappy schemes.

The strategy also recommends the council work with community groups, schools and businesses to encourage the re-use of goods and recycling.

The local authority should also promote the benefits of not wasting food, both to households and local firms.

It also stresses there needs to be ‘ongoing communication’ to reinforce the message.

Wider benefits

‘Where data has been analysed for return on communication campaigns, investment returns are good,’ the report states.

‘For example on food waste communications, returns of between £80 and £250 for every £1 invested have been seen.’

In addition, the council should also set targets for the re-use of furniture and electrical goods collected by the council.

It suggests these targets could be 30% of furniture and 20% of electrical goods by 2020.

The strategy also adds that re-use centres offer employment, the opportunity to learn new skills and can be financially self-supporting.

The council’s head of environment, Conor Canning, said the report concludes that a zero waste circular economy is ‘achievable’ and has the ‘potential to yield significant, economic, social and environmental benefits’ for the council.

‘It points the way towards achieving sustainable waste management practices while also creating economic activity by linking job creation to waste recovery and treatments,’ added Mr Canning.

Chair of Eunomia, Dominic Hogg, added: ‘It’s great to see local government embracing the principles of zero waste and the circular economy to provide impetus to regeneration of the regional economy.

‘We hope the council, its citizens and the businesses in the council area reap the benefits of this approach in years to come, and that other councils will feel inspired to follow suit. The environmental, social and economic benefits expected to flow from a more resource efficient, circular economy are significant.’

To read the full strategy document, click here.

  • Photo: Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District, Cllr Maoliosa McHugh, Cllr Angela Dobbins, chair of the council’s environment and regeneration committee, and Conor Canning, head of environment, launch a new campaign, Let’s Talk Rubbish
Jamie Hailstone

Jamie Hailstone

journalist

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