Policy Forum for Northern Ireland

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Next steps for the development of a circular economy in Northern Ireland

February 2024

Price: £150 PLUS VAT

This conference examined next steps for the development of a circular economy in Northern Ireland.

It was a timely opportunity for key stakeholders and policymakers to assess proposals for driving forward waste reduction, and development of a circular economy.

Delegates discussed the Circular Economy Strategy for Northern Ireland following the Department for the Economy’s consultation, and implications for stakeholders of key measures, including:

  • the Circular Economy funding programme - changes to public procurement - regulatory support and incentives
  • working with businesses - new clusters, frameworks and structures for supporting implementation - a focus on sectors such as agri-food, retail and energy
  • programmes for public information and promoting behaviour change - education and skills programmes - supporting a just transition

With the expected publication of a Climate Action Plan for Northern Ireland, delegates considered how a circular economy can tie into wider legislation on climate change and assist in meeting net zero targets.

Delegates discussed what support and action will be needed if Northern Ireland is to meet its ambition of cutting material consumption in half by 2050, as well as assessing proposals for adapting the current regulatory framework to incentivise the reuse of resources, revising end-of-waste regulations, and examining its implications for supply chains.

Further sessions assessed the support needed by businesses and communities to contribute to the development of a circular economy, including possible regulatory enforcement, and where customised strategies might be needed in areas such as agriculture.

Discussion also considered fairness for all in the transition, empowering consumers to choose more environmentally-friendly waste management practices, and implications for the waste sector and local government. Delegates will look at latest examples of best practice in the management of municipal and commercial waste, and potential opportunities for those involved in circular economy innovation.

We are pleased to have been able to include keynote sessions with: Heidi Redmond, Circular Economy Adviser, Department for the Economy; Dr Claire Cockerill, Director of Green Growth and Climate Action Delivery Division, Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs; Rachael Hook, Head of Resources and Waste Strategy, Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs; Keith James, Head of Policy and Insights, WRAP; and John Barry, Professor of Green Political Economy, Queen’s University Belfast.

Overall, sessions in the agenda included:

  • policy priorities: developing circular economy leadership and vision - government funding priorities to help ease transitions - assessing opportunities and addressing challenges
  • supporting implementation:
    • putting enablers for the circular economy strategy in place - support for businesses, communities and households
    • developing effective and accessible municipal waste strategies - adapting the current regulatory framework to incentivise the reuse of resources
    • improving monitoring - supporting implementation through economic, social and technological data gathering and analysis
  • widening the benefits: strategies and best practice for utilising a circular economy to assist in community and societal development
  • public engagement: supporting and empowering consumers to contribute to waste reduction and the circular economy - increasing stakeholder awareness and filling knowledge gaps
  • business support and knowledge exchange: building cross-sector resource efficiency and waste prevention partnerships - facilitating cooperation and knowledge exchange on best practice
  • research and innovation:
    • priority R&D areas for supporting the transition to a circular economy - funding for new emerging technologies
    • capitalising on NI’s offer in advanced manufacturing and academic research

The conference was an opportunity for stakeholders to consider the issues alongside key policy officials who attended from DAERA; Defra; DfC; DfI; Department for the Economy; DfE; DfT; Department of Finance; DoH; Invest NI; the NI Assembly; NIAO; NIEA; and the Welsh Government.

This on-demand pack includes

  • A full video recording of the conference as it took place, with all presentations, Q&A sessions, and remarks from chairs
  • An automated transcript of the conference
  • Copies of the slides used to accompany speaker presentations (subject to permission
  • Access to on-the-day materials, including speaker biographies, attendee lists and the agenda