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Thursday 23 January 2020

Textiles to be banned from the bin to reduce 'fast fashion' waste

Minister Richard Bruton has called for a ‘radical change’
Minister Richard Bruton has called for a ‘radical change’

Caroline O'Doherty

Disposable fashion will become a thing of the past under measures to ban clothes and textiles from household bins, landfill and incineration.

Bulky items such as furniture, toys and mattresses are also likely to be banned in an effort to force greater reuse of unwanted goods or recycling of their components.

'Fast fashion' has expanded the size of our wardrobes in recent years, but when clothes are thrown away they contribute to the country's enormous waste problem.

There are now 75 measures Climate Action and Environment Minister Richard Bruton believes can be implemented quickly to radically change how we manage waste.

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Clearer recycling labels on packaging, extending the range of recyclables collected in household bins and a ban on non-recyclable packaging are planned.

A VAT reduction on reuse and repair enterprises may also be brought in to curb the country's throw-away habits and addiction to so-called 'fast fashion'.

Other measures to be introduced include requiring waste companies to hit recycling targets as a condition of their permits and forcing tobacco companies to cover the cost of collecting cigarette butts and making safe their plastic and chemical-filled filters.

Mr Bruton has also directed a study on what he said was the "significant criminal element involved in illegal waste activities".

A network of multi-agency forums would be established to clamp down on dumping, fly-by-night operators and  illegal waste enterprises.

The minister said the waste industry would be required to contribute to the costs of enforcing the waste regulations.

"I am determined to address how we manage our waste as part of the Climate Action Plan," Mr Bruton said.

"We must radically change our wasteful use of precious resources which damages our climate and our environment and compromises our future."

Ireland produces 15 million tonnes of waste a year - 3.2 for every person in the country - and we generate far more packaging and plastic waste than the EU average.

The amount of household waste going to landfill and incineration would instantly fall by a third if it was properly segregated and the situation is worse in relation to commercial waste, 70pc of which is rendered impossible to recycle because of poor segregation.

Textiles, including unwanted clothes and household furnishings and linen, accounted for 80,000 tonnes of waste last year, making up 10pc of the contents of general household waste bins, 9pc of organic bin contents and 3pc of recycling bin contents.

A dedicated textile bin collection may form part of the solution. On-street recycling bins and more recycling facilities for bulky items are also likely options.

Food waste - estimated to cost the average household €700 a year - is also targeted for reduction, as is construction waste, which is currently being generated at a rate of 11 tonnes for every house built.

The Government has already committed to a range of measures to minimise the production of single-use plastics.

These new measures, which are open to public consultation until February 21, are driven mainly by EU directives which must now be translated into Irish law.

Irish Independent

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