IN 2019, a third of our waste - 1.2 million tonnes - was exported for recycling.
However, once it leaves our shores, we don’t know where it ends up and have no control over whether it’s even recycled.
The current system is not sustainable… but what if what we’re throwing away as ‘waste’, is not just salvageable, but rich in resources?
These important environmental questions are tackled in the next episode of science show 10 Things To Know About... on RTÉ1 on Monday at 8.30pm.
Presenters Kathriona Devereux and Jonathan McCrea meet the scientists developing technologies to recycle nutrients in wastewater from dairy farms to produce protein-rich biomass, enabling a closed-loop rural feed industry that could also help produce more environmentally friendly bioplastics!
Meanwhile, as our insatiable desire for modern technology pushes global demand for rare earth minerals and metals, the team examine projects that seek to reclaim precious metals from disused electrical items such as TVs and mobile phones.
Also in 10 Things To Know About... we get to look back to the source – Ireland’s rich mining past – to investigate whether materials taken out of the ground centuries ago could contain traces of valuable minerals to help us create a more circular economy.