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Turning Waste Into New Irish Jobs

Press release May 13, 2009 Energy & Environment

Minister for Environment launches new Market Development Plan to create jobs from waste currently exported

Mr John Gormley, T.D., Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government today launched an innovative 13 million Market Development Programme to develop new markets and help create new Irish jobs by transforming waste into new sustainable products. Targeting entrepreneurs, third level institutions, manufacturers and waste organisations, over the next five years, the Market Development Programme will identify and help develop markets for a variety of waste streams including plastics, paper, metals, organics, glass and wood.  Entrepreneurs interested in creating new businesses from waste can get further information at

"Waste that we export often reappears back in Ireland, rejuvenated as valuable commodities that we all buy, like juice or milk cartons, fleece tops or the latest backpack schoolbag.  We need to develop markets for these materials and add value here at home and that"s what the Market Development Programme is all about - it will be a catalyst for innovation", said John Gormley, T.D., Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government.  "It will establish partnerships and create linkages between those who produce goods and those who manage waste. It has great potential to generate new "green" jobs, it will add value to the materials in Ireland and create more revenue for our economy."

Ireland exports 1.5 million tonnes of recyclable waste a year. That's close to 76% of total recyclable waste generated here. It's waste that could be reprocessed here at home.

The Market Development Programme will shortly publish a Tender seeking people to conduct  demonstration trials using compost in agriculture.

This will be of interest to the farming sector and compost producers.  A second Tender to quantify the amount of plastic waste in the country will determine for the first time, the volumes, locations, types and current outlets for a variety of plastics generated in Ireland.  The results will be of particular interest to entrepreneurs wishing to add value to waste plastics.  Further Tenders will follow.

The Market Development Programme will work with academic colleges and institutions to help ensure that their Research and Development projects address topics of interest to entrepreneurs.  It will also work with scientific bodies and representative bodies like IBEC to ensure the needs of industry are given priority.

The Market Development Programme will develop a database of all recycled products in Ireland so that for the first time, there will be a comprehensive listing of all the products made from recycled materials in Ireland available for people to refer to when choosing to buy new products.

A comprehensive database of reprocessors - people who reprocess waste materials adding value to them - will also be published in the coming weeks at and will be of great value to people who are collecting waste materials and looking for outlets to sell them to as well as people who are seeking to buy reprocessed waste materials.   

The Programme will also develop "green" procurement programmes to encourage businesses and the public sector to consider buying products derived from recycled materials.

The Market Development Programme is focusing particular attention on plastic, paper and organic waste.  This is all waste we are required to divert from landfill and this diversion offers  opportunities for new businesses. 

"With the recent fall in demand for raw waste internationally and rising unemployment at home, now is the right time to find new ways to re-process and add value to our waste, here at home, reducing our dependency on foreign markets", says Margaret Daly, environmental consultant and chairperson of the Market Development Group

Brian Buckley, Director of Greyhound Recycling and Recovery views recyclables as a valuable commodity and not as a waste. "We have identified reprocessing of recyclables and adding value to these recoverable resources in Ireland as a key business opportunity", he says. "The recyclables market collapse in recent months has also demonstrated the need for high quality recyclables in order to maintain export markets and for greater indigenous reprocessing capacity to obviate any market declines. Developing markets demand significant efforts for a company and additional support as offered through the Market Development Programme will be a welcome initiative to all business sectors interested in operating in the area of resource recovery."

Fred McDarby, Manager of Environment and Green Technologies, Enterprise Ireland says the Market Development Programme is a timely initiative, given its emphasis on exploring new market opportunities. "Critical to its success will be its focus on quality and standards", he says.

"This drive for excellence, combined with the ongoing demonstration of the potential of recyclable materials, should create confidence in this market and open doors for Irish businesses, in particular for the SME sector. Enterprise Ireland looks forward to supporting this Programme as an initiative which should create employment opportunities and help in the drive towards creating a more resource led economy."

Dr Clement Higginbotham, Director, Materials Research Institute, Athlone Institute of Technology says "this much welcomed initiative will provide the opportunity to forge links between third level institutions and the business world."


Sean Dunne

Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government
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