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Circular Economy Strategy

Developing a Circular Economy Strategy for Northern Ireland

Project Description

The Circular Economy has gained global traction in recent years as it will support the net zero agenda in tackling and reducing GHG emissions, help to restore nature and create a more sustainable model for economic growth.

Our current ‘take, make, use and throwaway’ culture has devastating impacts on the environment.  The UN Global Resources Outlook Report, 2019 found that 90% of biodiversity loss and water stress comes because of resource extraction and processing.  These same activities contribute to 50% of global greenhouse gas emissions. The Circular Economy (CE) offers an alternative approach by rethinking our relationship with resources and transforming how we produce and consume products and services.

The Circular Economy Strategy will complement and support the NI Executive’s Climate Action Plan, and the Department for Economy’s (DfE) 10X Economic Vision.

The purpose of the project is to develop a strong evidence base in collaboration with industry to inform a Circular Economy Strategy for Northern Ireland. The sponsoring Department is DfE, who had set an action in the draft Industrial Strategy to work with DAERA to develop a Circular Economy Strategy for NI. The project was initiated in October 2019 with the following aims:

  • Increased collaboration and partnership working amongst CE stakeholders
  • More joined-up activity between Government Departments, local government and the private sector on CE issues
  • Enhanced understanding of the Northern Ireland CE ecosystem
  • A clear vision and ambition set out in the framework to inform a future CE Strategy
  • A strong evidence base to support the challenges and opportunities for CE in Northern Ireland
  • A central repository for CE activities to provide information and advice.

Project Status

A policy review was undertaken across the NICS, of relevant policy to support a circular economy. A Circular Economy Coalition of representatives from across industry, public and third sectors was established by Minister Dodds to provide insight and support.   A renowned global CE consultancy was appointed to provide a baseline of circularity for Northern Ireland.  With a solid evidence base in place, a Draft Circular Economy Strategy was produced in late 2022 and published for a 10-week Public  Consultation in January 2023.

The vision included in the Draft Circular Economy Strategy is that:

By 2050, Northern Ireland will have an innovative, inclusive and competitive economy where business, people and planet flourish, with responsible production and consumption at its core.

The goal of the strategy is to adopt a circular model and halve our material footprint by 2050, to live responsibly, build resilience, capitalise on new economic opportunities, and secure future prosperity for businesses, people and our planet.

SIB Involvement

SIB has been engaged by DfE to provide Strategic advice and project support. A Project Officer was appointed in March 2020.  In April 2023, the Project Officer was embedded into DfE as a Circular Economy Advisor, recognising that delivery of the strategy will be the next strand of this project.

SIB has supported DfE throughout the strategy development stage and will continue to provide support and guidance as the strategy is finalised and published.  SIB is also providing advice, insight, and support to the Department as it designs a structure and plan to implement the Circular Economy Strategy.

For further information contact:

Heidi Redmond, Circular Economy Adviser Heidi.Clarke@sibni.org

Alan McVicker, Strategic Adviser alan.mcvicker@sibni.org

Lady Dixon Park