AT the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, as the people of Cork lived, worked and even went to school at home, they took greater responsibility for recycling their waste, including that from additional consumption at home. Changes in Cork’s recycling patterns were observed.
In April, at the height of the restrictions, glass tonnage in the county’s Bring Banks increased by 46%, a trend that continues six months on. The Bantry Bring Bank, off Wolfe Tone Square, has proven to be the most popular of Cork County’s 141 Bring Banks so far this year, followed by the Mallow Bring Bank on Carmichael Lane and the Bring Bank in the Lidl carpark in Charleville.
This is just one example of how householders can act responsibility in disposing of their waste when they are aware of both how to and where to.
In fact Cork householders are just nine percentage points off reaching the EU Waste Framework Directive 2025 Recycling Rate Target and with a little more information and encouragement, we at Cork County Council believe this goal can be achieved.
While Cork County Council and local waste contractors can support people in managing their waste, it is ultimately the responsibility of the individual to consider their own consumption and the responsible management of their own waste.
To help with this management of waste - the aptly named mywaste.ie is Ireland’s official guide to managing waste. Here people will find everything they need and want to know about managing their waste responsibly, efficiently and in a way that works for them.
Cork County Council is also delivering a week long virtual Waste Awareness Programme, highlighting local waste management amenities in the county and informing the public about waste management.
Through a series of online videos, a social media campaign, workshops and leaflets, Cork County Council, in collaboration with the Southern Regional Waste Management Planning Office, are providing information, tips and fun facts each day, relating to different topics of interest or concern.
This week is about helping people become more aware of the civic amenities and services available in the county and how best to avail of them, as well as encouraging people to be more conscious of their responsibilities in the fight against waste - by reducing, reusing and recycling our waste.
Irish Households produce 20% more waste than the average across Europe. We are clearly using our hard earned money, buying more than we need. We must think before we buy – “Do I really need this?” or “Could I do with less?” If we plan and measure before we buy, we will generate less waste.
Before throwing anything out, even to be recycled, we must think “Could I use this again or reuse it for another purpose”? Our grandparents would have said: “keep a thing long enough and you will find a use for it”.
The majority of County Cork’s households undertake some form of waste segregation. Since the introduction of the Regional Waste Management Plan 2015 the rate of recycling and waste segregation in Cork has improved significantly, but we still have a way to go if we are to reach EU recycling targets. For example, in 2015 a 57%% of Cork households had a kerbside bin collection. Last year that number increased to 68%, we are confident that this number will improve further during the lifetime of the next Waste Management Plan. This increase in the availability of kerbside services means that many households that could not get a service in the past can now do so. Every householder is legally obliged to have a kerbside service or be able to prove how they dispose of their waste properly.
We are aware for example that of householders with a collection service, 50% have a three-bin system, yet only 75% of those households present their food waste bin regularly for collection. It is also estimated that more than 5,000 tonnes of textiles are discarded in Cork County alone every year. These are numbers that we can improve by working together as a community and taking individual responsibility. Where an area is not served by a contractor offering a three bin service, communities should come together and approach contractors as a group. Waste Service contractors might not provide a service on a route where there are few households looking for it, but if a group commits to the service together, it can make providing one viable.
Waste Awareness Week in Cork has two key aims, to make people aware of how far the county has comes in terms of waste management and how the county can improve even further by forming simple everyday habits.
We have seen in the past the positive outcomes that can be achieved through such initiatives. For example, at a special one-day collection of household hazardous waste at Mallow Recycling Centre in 2017, 1,840kgs of waste paint was brought by householders for disposal. A year later a further 25,308 tonnes were collected from Civic Amenity sites in Cork County. Events like this can have a significant knock on effect.
Cork County’s Waste Awareness Week runs from October 19 to October 23. See www.corkcoco.ie, on Cork County Council’s Environment Department Facebook page @corkcocoenviro or by following the conversation on Twitter and Instagram using the hashtags #greeningcorkcounty and #managingwaste. Further enquiries in relation to events and information relating to Cork Waste Awareness Week can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org