No time to waste

Recent extreme weather events in Ireland have elevated concerns about unsustainability in the media, particularly in relation to climate change. However, there are other ways in which our everyday lives need to be transformed if we are to live more sustainably in the future, not least in terms of the problematic by-products of hyperconsumerism, more commonly known as waste.

A light installation at Ballymun Boiler House, Dublin in 2002 by Andrew Kearney
A light installation at Ballymun Boiler House, Dublin in 2002 by Andrew Kearney

While national policy and EU Directives play an important role in shaping the ways in which we manage waste, more innovative practices to reduce, reuse and recycle waste are emerging from the social enterprise sector in Ireland and The Rediscovery Centre in Ballymun in particular. The Rediscovery Centre is a social enterprise dedicated to providing community employment and training via innovative reuse enterprises which use waste and unwanted materials as a resource and raw material for new product design. The scientists, designers, business managers and craftsmen involved in The Rediscovery Centre are united in a common purpose of sustainability through resource efficiency and life cycle design.  Their operational processes and programmes provide workplace skills training and development for unemployed people, graduates and the community. Meanwhile public training courses, demonstrations and educational activities highlight the benefits of effective resource management and encourage everyone to REDISCOVER the value of waste. In an exciting new development The Rediscovery Centre has been awarded more than €3.6 million of highly competitive European Funding through the LIFE programme. This funding will be used to enact the ultimate in reuse, the conversion of the derelict district heating boiler house in Ballymun into a 3D living textbook where state-of-the-art experiments in waste reduction, reuse and recycling initiatives will be brought together under one roof. The old Boiler House provided the district heating system for 36 flat complexes and 450 houses in the area and was the largest district heating system in Ireland when initially built in the 1960s. Thanks to the hard work and commitment of the team at The Rediscsovery Centre, the Boiler House previously earmarked for demolition, will now become an exemplar for reuse and eco innovation.

Anna Davies, Professor, Environmental Governance Research Group, Department of Geography, TCD

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