rx3 Final Report on Waste Prevention and Recycling Launched

07.01.16

The Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government has just published the final report on the ‘rx3 – Rethink Recycle Remake’ market development programme managed by RPS consultants over the past 6 years.

rx3 was a new national platform set up in 2008 to assist national waste recycling for paper, plastics and organics based on resource efficiency. The main focus was on closing the material loop, through the development of markets for reusable, remanufactured and recyclable materials. This closed loop recycling project correctly anticipated the new ‘circular economy’ policy by the EU Commission favouring eco-innovation, economic development and job creation.

Three types of actions have been completed by rx3:

  • Technical – e.g. the development of materials standards and systems of quality control so that the market can have confidence in the product’s consistency and reliability
  • Communications – overcoming barriers due to a lack of awareness and understanding of the possible benefits of recycled materials and their availability by creating dialogue and cooperation between stakeholders
  • Economic Incentives – supporting innovation and jobs, product development and cross-sectoral initiatives between those managing the waste and those creating new products

The final report found that the rx3 interventions were wide ranging and impactful. Despite the economic crisis that overlapped with the programme, rx3 contributed to economic recovery, value creation (including intellectual property), job creation and to an increase in municipal material recycling rates to 35% in 2012. Municipal composting and anaerobic digestion rates also increased.

The project was of key strategic importance to the greening of the Irish economy and to the development of green enterprises in Ireland. The report found that rx3 had proactively contributed to addressing key strategic areas including: Environmental Innovation and R&D, Low Carbon Economy, Green Enterprise, Green Economy, Economic Instruments to enhance the Green Economy and Benefits of North South Cooperation. In recognition of these achievements, rx3 won the Green Public Sector Award at the 2013 National Green Awards.

One of the beneficiaries of the market development programme was new start-up company Obeo who now make and sell compostable food waste boxes which are available in major retail outlets nationwide and online.

”We couldn’t have set up Obeo as a start-up out of NCAD without the guidance and support of rx3 who were of tremendous assistance” stated Kate Cronin, Obeo Founder.

“This project represented a fundamental mind shift from the old ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’ tag line to a more holistic approach ‘Rethink Recycle Remake’ emphasising the role of eco design thinking aimed at waste prevention and the need to close the manufacturing loop by reusing and recycling materials as far as possible” said PJ Rudden, RPS Director. “If you can’t recycle it, then you should not make it. Also central to the circular economy is the necessary recycling and recovery of waste to practically eliminate landfill” he concluded.