About Zero Waste Alliance Ireland
‘ZWAI promotes a rethink of current discard, disposal practices and works towards a circular
economy. We are engaged at national and EU level in policy initiatives and information campaigns’
Zero Waste Alliance Ireland (ZWAI) is a registered environmental charity and NGO, nationally based, and is a member of the Irish Environmental Network (IEN) and the Environmental Pillar of Social Partnership. We receive funding from the Irish Government through the DCCAE.
ZWAI is a not-for-profit policy-oriented organization, established in 2004, to focus on Zero Waste principles (whole lifecycle approach) where waste is seen as a resource. We believe the existing consumerist and wasteful economy and society cannot continue much longer in its present form, and that radical changes are urgently needed.
At ZWAI we believe human communities should behave like natural ones. Living comfortably within the natural flow of energy from the sun and plants, producing no wastes which cannot be recycled back into the earth’s systems, and guided by new economic values which are in harmony with personal and ecological values.
In nature, the waste products of every living organism serve as raw materials to be transformed by other living creatures or benefit the planet in other ways.
Instead of organising systems that efficiently dispose of or recycle our waste, we need to design systems of production that have little or no waste to begin with.
There are no technical barriers to achieving a “zero waste society”, only our habits, our greed as a society, and the current economic structures and policies which have led to the present environmental, social and economic difficulties.
“Zero Waste” is a realistic whole-system approach to addressing the problem of society’s unsustainable resource flows – it encompasses waste elimination at source through product design and producer responsibility, together with waste reduction strategies further down the supply chain, such as cleaner production, product re-design, repairing, dismantling, recycling, re-use and composting
Zero Waste Alliance Ireland has prepared many policy documents on waste management, we continue to lobby Government on the issue of sustainable resource and critical materials management, and to express our concern at the failure to address Ireland’s waste problems at a fundamental level.
In recent years, as many older landfills were closed or became better managed (primarily as a consequence of the implementation of European Directives, Irish legislation transposing these Directives, the development of a waste licensing regime by the Environmental Protection Agency, and the establishment of the Office of Environmental Enforcement in 2003), the number of affiliated groups concerned about the adverse environmental and public health effects of landfills decreased
ZWAI therefore concentrated more on the objectives of ensuring that Ireland’s government agencies, local authorities and other organisations will develop and implement environmentally sustainable resources and waste management policies, especially resource efficiency, waste reduction and elimination, the promotion of re-use, repair and recycling, and the development and implementation of the Circular Economy.
ZWAI is primarily concerned with the very serious issue of discarded materials and goods, whether from domestic, commercial or industrial sources, how these become “waste”, and how such “waste” may be prevented by re-design along ecological principles.
A very important aspect of the work we do is raising public awareness on the issues we advocate both on a national and European level. We do this by sharing information, ideas and contacts on our website and social media pages (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter) which we update regularly.
Raising public awareness
As well as spreading awareness we also provide recommendations on sustainable and practical solutions for domestic, municipal, industrial and agricultural waste management in Ireland including the promotion of resource recycling, sustainable living practices and reusable products.
Our aim is to stimulate public interest in zero waste economics and encourage informed debate’s on related topics.
In the past our members have given presentations and lectures both to the general public and at university level. ZWAI has also been invited to speak at conferences both in Ireland and internationally, see below for examples.
Lecture, by invitation, to the national Construction Industry Summit, Dublin, Ireland, on Climate
Change and Waste: “How the Construction Industry can Survive in a World of Zero Waste and
Climate Change”; March 2019.
Lecture, by invitation from the European Union Office on Hong Kong and Macao, and the Business
Environment Council of Hong Kong, on the topic of “Addressing the Plastic Waste Challenge in
Europe – Learning from Experience”; Hong Kong, March 2019.
Public lecture, by invitation of the Food Safety Authority of Ireland, on the topic of “Plastics and
Food – Friends or Enemies”, at the 2019 Food Safety Consultative Council Open Meeting, Dublin, 21
Our aim is to stimulate public interest in zero waste economics and encourage informed debate’s on
ZWAI has also formed affiliations with other organizations and groups who share our objectives
within Ireland and across the EU.
We are a member of the European Environmental Bureau, Zero Waste Europe and The Community
Resource Network Ireland and have representatives on the Waste Forum and the Water Forum.
We receive funding from the Irish Environmental Network and maintain working relationships with
VOICE, An Taisce, Friends of the Earth Ireland, Friends of the Irish Environment, Cork Harbour for a
Safe Environment (CHASE), Kinsale Environment Watch etc.
We also have connection with international organisation such as the Grass Roots Recycling Network
in the United States and the Global Anti-Incinerator Alliance (GAIA).
Engaging with other organisations
A lot of our work involves lobbying the Irish government and local authorities to implement environmentally sustainable waste management practices, including clean production, elimination of toxic substances from products, reuse, recycling, segregation of discarded materials at source, and to introduce fiscal and economic measures designed to penalise the manufacturers of products that do not implement these measures.
Campaigning for change
Therefore, our work involves responding to public consultations nationally and on an EU level to recommend, propose and initiate enlightened government legislation, promoting the Circular Economy.
We highlight to State Organizations, specific elements of the UN Sustainability Goals, the EU Circular Economy Goals, the EU Green Deal, and any European Union Environmental Directives, where Ireland is not compliant at present and may recommend additional measures such as new national laws and regulations and economic instruments that could help achieve these goals.
ZWAI believes this is the most effective way to initiate true systematic change. We make all our submissions available to the public which can be viewed in our Library.
ZWAI has been involved in many different waste related projects over the years. Such as our
food waste composter, Ecupan and Packetin projects.