A green new deal (US), green collar jobs (UK), a smart economy is a green economy (Eire) — slogans are one thing, but now the government is putting our money where their mouth is.
Summary: “Concerned about the loss of jobs that comes about by exporting waste, the Government has launched a €13 million market development programme to help create new Irish jobs by using recycled materials to produce environmentally-friendly goods.”
It’s only 13 million euro, but it is still 13 million euro wasted.
Recycled material is of lower quality than virgin material so it has to compete on price. This means that recycling is done by people on really low wages — that is, low wages on the Indian wage scale. There are substantial occupational hazards in recycling, so Irish labour costs would be high even if wages were low (on an Irish scale). Recycling in Ireland is just not an option, unless the process can be almost fully automated, in which case few jobs would be created.
Increasing the share of recycled materials in Irish manufacturing cannot be good for employment either. Irish companies already have the option to use such materials. The fact that they do not avail of that option would suggest that there is something not right with the cost or quality of recycled material. A subsidy would change the balance, of course, but subsidised input substitution is not known to lead to output growth (and hence new employment).
There is, of course, a niche market for products that serve the environmentally conscious consumer. Real money can be made in designs for that market, even if little money is made in the actual production. Eco-design is a saturated market, however, and Ireland has no obvious edge over its would-be, well-established competitors.
As I said, it’s only 13 million euro. But it is more money down the drain, and it shows that the government really does not understand much about the creation of jobs or wealth.