John Whelan

Linkage Partnership

Don’t waste It , Tag it

By John F Whelan , 26th September 2017

Urban waste is being produced at a faster and faster rate ,according to the World Bank’s report What a Waste: A Global Review of Solid Waste Management. Annual worldwide urban waste is estimated to more than triple, from 0.68 to 2.2 billion tonnes per year over the next decade .

In 2006 Ireland was the second highest urban waste producer at 941 Kilograms per person behind New Zealand (1,3423Kgs) but ahead of the United States ,according to the World Bank in it’s last review of the developed world’s waste status .

But things have improved as related by the more recent Eurostat report which shows that Irish people produced 586 kg of waste per person in 2012 and is 22% above the EU average of 481 kg per person .

Well above the EU average , but a dramatic improvement on the World Bank report of six years earlier . Much of the improvement has been driven by EU legislation ,which ensured greater focus by the Irish Government in both campaigning for public awareness and funding for better waste management .

Was it all achieved by use of the carrot ? Environmental taxes have played a key role in driving progress in relation to waste management. The Irish landfill levy was introduced in 2002 at a rate of 15 euro per tonne of waste. Since July 2013, it has been set at 75 euro per tonne of waste; an increase of 60 euro over the period from 2002 to 2013. But the Government has shaken up the system again . A new framework for household waste charges was announced in June 2017. Under the proposed new arrangements, waste collectors will offer a range of pricing options, such as standing charges; charges per lift or per kilo; charges by weight band; weight allowance charges; or combinations of these elements.

And is it worth it ? Certainly the Government is gaining as new revenue stream , which could keep on giving for some years to come . Recent EPA research estimates that if Ireland achieved a target of a 2% reduction in domestic material consumption per annum, this would yield savings of about €928 million in the first year and increased annual savings thereafter.

By 2020 this could lead to a 25% improvement in resource efficiency, yielding a total saving of approximately €7 billion over that period. Resource efficiency is about living better while using less – and for Ireland, this ambition has never been more relevant

The key to it all however , is to get us all to do more and more recycling . In comparison with the EU average of 28%, Ireland now recycles just over a third (34%) of municipal waste. However, Ireland still sends 42% of municipal waste to landfill, while composting accounts for 6%, and incineration 18%.

However , eaten bread is soon forgotten , the bar has been raised ! The EU European Circular Economy Package has set the target for each member state at 65% recycling rate on all waste to be achieved by 2030.

The Irish Government’s overarching objective is to implement EU and national policy on resource efficiency to break the link between economic growth and environmental impact. More specifically, they plan to have timely information on waste ‘’arisings’’ which is seen as critical to the effective management and prevention of waste on a national basis. The main effort will be targeted at the prevention, recycling and management of priority waste streams. A critical part of this process is waste characterisation to profile waste ‘’arisings’’ especially from smaller sources (e.g., households and small business).

Laudable targets and objectives, but help will be needed.

From working with a group of Internet of Things ( I o T) companies across Europe last year who were involved in a waste recycling project call TagitSmart , I believe IoT can provide that helping hand to hit that 65% recycling target . TagItSmart is creating tools to create smart solutions for the whole value chain; manufacturer, transportation, retail, consumer and recycling, In the case of consumer engagement, direct access to production data gives the consumer more value and drive decision making process. Ultimately it makes it possible for the manufacturer of the product to receive more reliable and real-time consumer behaviour data.

TagitSmart don’t have an Irish partner and are interested in bringing one on board this multi-state H2020 funded project.

At the heart of the project partner’s technology is the Smart Tag which is context sensitive, printable QR code called Fun Codes. Once attached to a product such as a milk carton, beer crate, temperature sensitive medical supplies etc., the tags are able to convey vital information along the life-cycle of the product. The context sensitive tags along with widely available smart-phones enable the capturing, recording and transmission of these codes and the information they contain. Context information monitored includes but not limited to temperature and oxygen exposure.

For more information check on

Partners are ; Unilever (UK and Netherlands), Fujitsu Laboratories of Europe (UK), Siemens Srl. (Romania), Resonance Design (Netherlands), DunavNET (Serbia), Univerexport (Serbia), Lmental Sostenibilitat i Futur, S. Coop. (Spain), Thin film Electronic AB (Sweden), Durst Phototechnik Dig. Technology GmbH (Austria), Evrything Ltd. (UK), University of Surrey (UK), University of Padova (Italy), VTT, UPC Consulting Ltd. (Finland), Pôle des Industries du Commerce (France).

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