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October is National Reuse Month

October marks National Reuse Month, a waste prevention initiative to raise awareness about the economic and environmental benefits of reusing everyday items and materials that would otherwise go to waste. An Irish publicly funded initiative is providing a free ‘reuse’ service for businesses not just for October, but year-round. SMILE (Saving Money through Industry Links and Exchanges) is Ireland’s free, award winning, national Industrial Symbiosis programme.

SMILE provides a platform for businesses to connect and identify synergies which encourages the exchanging of resources between businesses. SMILE aims to cut costs, reduce wastes, source materials, identify new business opportunities and improve competitiveness. Their ethos is that one company’s waste is another ones treasure. Recently SMILE has facilitated technical assistance which is delivered by a consultant based in each of the three waste management regions in Ireland ie. the Southern Waste Management region, the Eastern Midlands.

Waste Management region and the Connacht Ulster Waste Management region. Their role is to liaise and meet with businesses, assess their waste streams and identify potential synergies where a waste in one business could be a raw material in another business. Industrial symbiosis is described as “the sharing of services, utility and by-product resources among industries in order to add value, reduce costs and improve the environment”. Our economy has a basic linear structure whereby we put products which are not made to last into the ground as landfill which is incredibly wasteful and detrimental to the environment. However, Industrial Symbiosis aims to adapt the circular economy approach and for the elimination of waste through the design of products, and business models. Its essence is to design products with no waste products that facilitate The SMILE team then support the negotiations between the companies to allow the synergy to progress and the Industrial Symbiosis service offered by SMILE helps to overcome any obstacles to ensure success.

Industrial Symbiosis

There are a number of case studies which demonstrate industrial symbiosis internationally and in Ireland, which show how the move from a linear economy to a circular economy is invaluable. One case study in Leinster resulted in over 17,000 cardboard boxes reused by Rebox Recycling, this resulted in revenue of €11,050 as well as the diversion of 42 tonnes from landfill annually. This systems approach to a more sustainable and integrated industrial economy, identifies business opportunities to improve resource utilisation and works with businesses of all sizes and from all sectors. The SMILE Industrial Symbiosis consultants provide advice, support and guidance to businesses on resource efficiency, legislation and waste management.

SMILE also partner with trade and research organisations and bring innovative and specific solutions to businesses. SMILE is managed by Macroom E, a Cork County Council initiative and is supported by the Environmental Protection Agency, Cork County Council, Cork City Council, Local Enterprise Offices, Southern Region Waste Management Office, Eastern Midlands Waste Management Office, Connacht Ulster Waste Management Office and South Dublin County Council.

For more information, please visit their website.


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