Waste Minimisation

One of the categories introduced in the Tidy Towns Competition over the past number of years is Waste Minimisation. With this in mind, we introduced a programme initiated by Dr. Mary Stack of Cork Co. Council Environmental Awareness and Research Unit. The programme was designed as a pilot project for community groups focused on assessing the level of behavioural change that could be achieved with diverting household waste away from landfill. This was achieved through waste reduction, energy and water conservation training.

A series of information meetings and trainings were organised by the Environmental Awareness Unit. These included visits by invited specialists from Cork Co. Council, An Taisce, ESB and a BER Assessor. The information meetings were supplemented by an Eco homes training course (eight 2 hour training sessions and one on site practical).

The courses encouraged and induced behavioural changes in the group. The themes Rethink, Reduce and Recycle brought about significant changes.

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Examples

Shopping

  • Make a choice that will reduce packaging.
  • Buying loose fruit and vegetables – buy what you need.
  • Buy locally – buying locally reduces the air miles on purchases.
  • Check use by dates – to avoid buying food that might be thrown out if not eaten immediately.
    • Reuse of Household Goods

      • Use Cork Co Council website www.wastematchers.com or a similar site www.freecycle.org.
      • Use Charity shops, free advertiser papers e.g. Evening Echo.
      • Set up a local reuse of goods notice board.
        • Recycling Practices

          • Highlighting good recycling practices such as washing and crushing items.
          • Identifying what can and cannot be recycled.
            • Safe Disposal Practices

              • Promoting the use of recycling centres.
              • Promote the use of ChemCar service.
              • Promote the use of Dump campaign for the disposal of medicines.
              • Take back schemes on used batteries and electronic equipment.
                • Composting and Food Waste

                  • Providing the participants with the necessary skills, knowledge and equipment to divert food and perishable waste away from the residual waste stream into composting systems.
                    • Water Conservation

                      • Provide the participants with the necessary skills, knowledge and equipment to install water saving devices within their homes.
                      • Encourage the participants to make behavioural changes that will reduce their total amount of water use.
                      • Encouraging participants to monitor their electricity usage using the wireless energy meters provided.
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                          Survey

                          Two surveys were conducted at the start and at the end of the project. These surveys helped to establish information on the householders normal practices and the behavioural changes brought about through this educational programme.

                          Twenty two households signed up to participation the programme. Each participant was given a compost bin, a green cone (food composter), weighing scales and a wireless energy meter. These were funded by Blackwater Avondhu Development and the householder paid a nominal fee.

                          The trainer Mike Holden was funded by Cork Co. Council.

                          At the end of the programme, the participants had reduced their waste going to landfill by 85%.

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