Project info in a snapshot:

Belturbet Zero Waste (BZW) began as a local response to the global problem of plastics in our oceans.

Programmes like Blue Planet 2 highlight the plight of wildlife suffering from our discarded waste.  What should be a pristine natural environment, is rapidly getting destroyed by careless human behaviour. The issue not only relates to how we dispose of our waste, it includes how we consume valuable resources such as energy and water.  If we continue to behave towards our planet in an unsustainable fashion and unless we lower our carbon footprint, this planet will not be able to support our existence.

As individuals, we can be overwhelmed by the magnitude of the whole concept, and whilst we should take personal responsibility for our actions, it makes sense for us to come together as a community and collectively, make a meaningful difference.

The Belturbet Zero Waste (BZW) initiative was officially launched on 27th Feb 2019 as a community-led response to climate change and planetary degradation.

We have established our target at 50% reduction in waste and carbon footprint over 5 years. We believe this to be an achievable goal. The starting point will be identifying how we already manage our resources by a confidential survey questionnaire. Once we have our baseline, we can actively begin to engage with our community, implementing positive lifestyle changes.

Our Zero Waste initiative is structured with a twin approach; household and business, combining to give Belturbet community an overall ecological footprint score. The success of BZW relies on maximum participation. We are encouraging everyone to get involved, so when you get a survey questionnaire delivered to your household or/and business, we ask you to please complete and return to the named collection boxes as soon as possible.

We are at the beginning of our Belturbet Zero Waste journey. By helping make it a success, you are taking part in a serious social programme, which can be repeated by other communities and will make a genuine contribution to reversing the damage done to our planet.

It’s not just about plastics!

Together, we can make a difference. Go raibh maith agaibh go léir.

Find out more detail about the project and progress to date:

The Concept

Our zero waste journey began in October 2017, when Belturbet Tidy Towns, in collaboration with Cavan Co Council Waste Management team created the first “Excess Packaging Facility” in County Cavan at our local Centra store. We had the support of local companies in creating this facility, which was proposed as a 3-month pilot project.

“Excess Packaging Facility” in County Cavan at our local Centra

The main aim of this initiative was to examine the reaction of the community to a facility allowing them to discard excess packaging in-store, preventing the need of bringing it home and dealing with it there. No particular emphasis was placed on whether the packaging was recyclable. It was essentially an awareness campaign to highlight unnecessary packaging, and the fact that the facility is still in position, 20 months later, indicates its popularity and success.

During the spring of 2018, further discussions between Belturbet Tidy Towns Committee and Cavan Co Council were held, relating to how best we could develop this initiative, and how we could expand on the concept. It was during one of these meetings that the idea was raised that we could consider aiming towards a Zero Waste Town. In April 2018, Connaught/Ulster Waste Region became involved, and we arranged a visit in May to Cashel Co Tipperary, for a presentation of their Zero Waste Town project. This we did, and learned a huge amount about what such an endeavour might entail.

Following our trip to Cashel, Belturbet Tidy Towns committee agreed in principle, at our AGM convened on 19/05/18, to proceed with our own Zero Waste Town project.

Beginning the Journey:

It was immediately obvious to us, as a small committee, that we lacked a lot of the resources, skillsets and time required to complete such a mammoth task.

We were introduced to Dr Vincent Carragher, Research Fellow, Structural and Environmental Engineering, TCD as facilitator.

The process of converting concept into reality had begun.

On Friday 12th Oct ’18, Dr Carragher facilitated our inaugural Zero Waste Town public meeting at Belturbet Goods Store. This was a 10am meeting with attendance of over 75.

Many local businesses, householders and especially local schoolchildren were present.

We announced for the first time, our target of reducing the ecological/carbon footprint of our community by 50% over 5 years.

We came away from this workshop-style meeting with our Zero Waste Charter, signed by over 50 signatories, giving us a mandate from the community to proceed with our project of transitioning to more sustainable lifestyles.

On Tuesday 20th Nov ’18, we conducted our follow-up workshop in Belturbet Civic Centre, again well attended by over 70 businesses, local schools, and local elected representatives.

At this workshop we set out our strategy, and established management structures in order to achieve our target of 50% reduction over 5 years.

The structure is as follows;

  • Two locally based teams, each with approx. 6 members; a Household Team and a Business team.
  • A locally based Core team, initially with 3 members
  • The Household Team to be facilitated by Dr. Carragher.
  • The Business Team to be facilitated by Clean Technology Centre CTC, Cork.

The immediate strategy of the Belturbet Zero Waste was established at this workshop;

  • The Household Team are to distribute ecological footprint survey questionnaires to the local community. Returned questionnaires to be analysed and converted to give the community an overall carbon footprint. This will be the baseline from which we can measure our progress over the next 5 years.
  • The Business Team are to engage with local businesses and perform on-line assessments in order to provide an average baseline score for the business community. This is to run in parallel with the Household programme above.
  • Timelines to establish baseline were agreed.
  • We agreed to create Whatsapp groups for both the Household Team and the Business Team in order to simplify communication within the Belturbet Zero Waste project teams
  • We agreed to create a Facebook Page in order to let our community know of our Zero Waste progress.

On Wed 27th Feb ’19, Belturbet Zero Waste was officially launched in the Civic Centre.

We had an attendance of over 85 at this event, which was our third public Zero Waste meeting with an agenda of spreading the message of transitioning our community to a reduced carbon lifestyle.

At this event, we focused on inviting many of the other local voluntary groups, involved in so many activities throughout the town.

At the launch, we had a display from St Bricin’s Vocational School of their entrants for Junk Couture National Awards.

We announced the winner of our schools’ competition to design our Zero Waste logo.

We also announced the upcoming surveys to be expected by both households and businesses, by way of preparation.

The Journey

We have designed a comprehensive ecological footprint survey questionnaire and distributed this to approx. 1000 households. This survey asks questions relating to everything including energy, household waste, water, food consumption, transport, clothing etc. To date we have had approx. 15 to 20% return rate and are about to commence the analysis process with assistance from Transition Year students at St Bricin’s College.

The conversion of this survey information will be the formation of our baseline from which we can measure our forthcoming Zero Waste progress.

The establishing of our business baseline has been greatly enhanced by the activities of two 3rd yr Environmental Engineering students from UCC on work placement with CTC, who spent a few days in Belturbet engaging the participation of local businesses.

We expect a result on the business appraisal imminently.

The focus to date has been on the establishment of our community’s current carbon footprint. This is the vital starting point and it identifies our household’s waste, transport, water, household energy and food impacts. It will allow us to identify the significance of our waste impacts.

The process as outlined so far has engineered public awareness and there is currently an appetite and expectation that the next step should focus on how we achieve our target.

We propose to run a series of focus sessions followed by workshops in order to identify particular solutions and actions promoting individual behavioral change.

Now begins the real work of achieving our goal of 10% reduction per annum over the next 5 years.

The survey process will be repeated annually.

We are confident that, with the participation so far indicated, our goal of 50% reduction in overall waste over 5 years is manageable and achievable.

It is important to recognise that this is a community-led initiative and is driven by the enthusiasm of the Belturbet community to make a real difference.

We believe this unique project captures precisely the need of our community to meaningfully address the global challenge of climate change, and hopefully can inspire other communities to undertake similar initiatives.

Please check out our Belturbet Zero Waste Facebook Page.

Barry Wilson

Chairperson, on behalf of Belturbet Tidy Towns

Belturbet EF Survey Results, July 2019

The average Ecological Footprint (EF) of Belturbet residents calculates at 3.03 global Hectares (gHa). This means if everyone in the world lived as the average Belturbet citizen, we would need 1.7 planets.

The 2019 Belturbet EF Result compares well with the national average, this being over 3 planets.

This is the Baseline we will use to chart our progress to our target of 50% waste reduction over the next 5 years.

Beginning in September, the next step on our Belturbet Zero Waste journey will be a series of workshops on achievable low-carbon changes.

Many thanks to all involved in bringing our Zero Waste project to this stage.

Belturbet Zero Waste Committee.

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