Welcome to the Environmental Awareness & Research Unit

The Environmental Awareness Unit (EARU) has responsibility for developing and implementing environmental awareness programmes in Cork County. The current Cork County Council Environmental Strategy 2016-2020 is available for download. The key objectives of the strategy are as follows:

  • Waste Prevention Awareness
  • Anti-litter Awareness
  • Water Conservation & Water Pollution
  • Climate Change & Biodiversity.

Cork County Council is actively promoting waste prevention and resource conservation throughout its public awareness campaigns. Key target groups include businesses, schools and communities.  Cork County Council regards education as a fundamental cornerstone of environmental protection.

To this end, the Environmnetal Awareness Team in Cork County Council is running a proactive awareness programme with local initiatives at the core.

At the heart of our youth programme is the Green School Flag initiative. The Council actively promotes this eco Educational Environmental Awards Programme accredited by on Taisce www.greenschoolsireland.org. Following the establishment of the Environmental Awareness Unit, the number of schools participating in the programme has soared from 15 in 2005 to 320 in 2015. This is > 90% of all Cork County schools primary & second level schools.

First Green Flag Ballyheady

1st Green Flag Ballyheady & 3rd Flag for Scoil Mhuire.

Cork County Council itself has participated in waste minimisation & water-energy conservation programmes 'initially with an Action at Work' initiative for its own employees since 2007, through to current participation in national Local Authority Prevention Network. Our energy section has established EMAP energy conservation initiatives to allow the Council to meet the 20% CO2 reduction by 2020.

EARU Info Day

Council staff assist with information day events.

Community involvement, through the Local Agenda 21 Environment fund the Council has directly sponsored over 500 local environmental projects in towns and villages.

The calendar year is extremely busy starting with Green schools assessments & visits in January through to April and again in November to December. The EARU assists with providing workshop trainings for teachers, compost bins and water butts. Lots of additional environmental materials on requests and facilitate school tours to Inniscarra Water works and compost demonstration site.

Spring months brings National Spring Clean events, Neat Streets, Eco Unesco Youth Projects, Schools garden competition, schools poster competition 

EARU Snail

Exhibit by 3rd class in Art Category Best School Garden.

Summer explodes with events such as National Spring Clean events, May is Compost Awareness Month, June is Antilitter Challenge for Towns & Villages, Tidy Towns judging, July through August hosts Fota youth camp environment events, Chew It Bin events, Blue Flag Beach & Clean Coast events, Greening Festivals, Stream & River awareness projects & biodiversity talks.

EARU Tidy Towns

Tidy Towns campaigns to reduce your food waste.

Autumn sees continuation of sustainable gardening projects, Islands environmental initiatives, sustainable shopping events, heritage events.  Winter see series of environmental awareness training events for Tidy Towns, SME.s & Global Action Plan courses and support for Christmas appeals.

EARU Greening Summer Festivals

Greening summer street festivals with promotion of sustainable practices.



3 for 3 as Reuse Republic Continues to Inspire in Cork

ReUse Republic returned to Cork County Hall in Cork for its 3rd annual celebration of reuse, upcycling and eco-friendly business initiatives from across Cork County. Building on the success of previous years, this year’s event brought even more guests, a record number of businesses, and celebrity chef, food writer, blogger and photographer Lilly Higgins.
30 exhibitors from across the reuse sector showcased their products to a record number of visitors as well as shared ideas about sustainable living. Throughout the day the craftspeople of The Front Porch Macroom and Sue Gifford Design recreated beautiful pieces of old furniture while a series of talks and demonstrations were given on a range of topics including the reuse of paint, eliminating household waste and single use plastics.

The highlight of the event was a demonstration in the foyer by celebrity chef Lilly Higgins who shared tips and tricks on how saving money, eating well and reducing waste with some helpful recipes and shopping tips.

Throughout the day, guests contributed clothes for what proved to be a very popular swap shop, allowing participants to get rid of unwanted clothing without letting it go to waste.  Those that contributed also had the opportunity to take other preloved clothes, cutting out the need for fast fashion.

Mayor of the County of Cork, Cllr Christopher O’Sullivan noted that

“Reuse is such a crucial issue at the moment. The Reuse Republic Exhibition is a hugely important initiative for Cork County Council.  It shows how to live more sustainably by connecting with the phenomenal businesses from Cork that are leading the way in this area. As a society we need to look at how we can live more sustainably.  The ReUse exhibitors showed how we can incorporate reuse into our daily lives, whether that be sharing or swapping pre loved clothes, upcycling a piece of vintage furniture, or being creative with leftovers from yesterday’s dinner.”

Tim Lucey, Chief Executive of Cork County Council, went on to say,

“Events such as ReUse Republic are a great way of creating connections on the issues of waste reduction, upcycling and reuse, while also finding practical ways of introducing more reuse ideas to our homes.”

Click the following link to download Lilly’s Tips and Tricks.

It’s not in our nature, is it in yours?

Not only does fly-tipping make our beautiful landscapes look not so beautiful, it can also cause harm to our environment and nature. Stop the dumping and report littering offences to 021 4285417. @DCCAE @MyWasteIreland #NotInOurNature #AntiDumping #waste #nature #environment #domesticwaste  #communities

It’s not in our nature, is it in yours? 

Sometimes people don’t realise that what they are doing is littering.  These little cigarette butts are such an eye sore in our towns and countryside and are harmful to our environment.  Results from the National Litter Pollution Monitoring System indicate that cigarette related litter was 54.4% of litter composition across the country in 2018.  Report littering offences to 021 4285417. @DCCAE @MyWasteIreland #NotInOurNature #AntiDumping #waste #nature #environment #domesticwaste  #communities

It’s not in our nature, is it in yours?

Littering at bring banks can be as simple as leaving one bottle beside the bins.  Please always use the bins appropriately and report full bins and littering offences to 021 4285417.  To find your nearest Bring Bank see mywaste.ie@DCCAE @MyWasteIreland #NotInOurNature #AntiDumping #waste #nature #environment #domesticwaste  #communities

Householders are required by law to use a permitted waste collector or use a permitted facility to dispose of their waste?  Many bogus waste collectors are not complying with the law and much of the waste they collect ends up in our beautiful countryside.  Please make sure you use a permitted collector and report any bogus waste collectors to Cork County Councils Anti-Litter Unit on 021 4285417

#AntiDumping #domesticwaste  #communities 


Cork County Council Logo dccae logo



Environmental Awareness

Do you have a project or initiative that could help to increase awareness of environmental issues locally, or that could help your community to become more sustainable?

If so, you may qualify for financial assistance from the Community Environment Action Fund 2019, previously known as the Local Agenda 21 Environmental Partnership Fund.  This Fund promotes sustainable development by assisting small scale, non-profit environmental projects at local level.

How to Apply

Click the link to submit your 'Community Environment Action Fund' application.

Applications must be submitted no later than 5pm, 27th September 2019.

Does Your Project Qualify?

Projects should focus on environmental awareness and actions which complement national environmental policies such as those on waste, biodiversity, water conservation and climate change.  The Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Richard Bruton, TD has asked that priority be given to Climate and Biodiversity projects in the 2019 scheme. Projects focusing on biodiversity should take account of the National Biodiversity Action Plan and/or the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan and how it applies to the local area. 

A wide variety of projects and schemes have been supported under the Fund in previous years, including community gardens and allotments, compost schemes, rainwater harvesting, biodiversity projects, waste reduction initiatives, educational initiatives and environmental exhibitions.  Click the link for a 'List of Previously Funded LA21 Projects'.

Additional Information

For general information on the Scheme please contact the Environmental Awareness Team, at the Environment Directorate of Cork County Council.

Tel: 021-4532700

E-Mail: ceafund@CorkCoco.ie

Waste Prevention Programme for Business

The Local Authority Prevention Network (LAPN), was developed by the Environmental Protection Agency as part of the National Waste Prevention Programme (NWPP). The purpose of this initiative is to build capacity in the Local Authorities for the promotion of resource efficiency and waste prevention at a local level. This EPA initiative is providing financial and technical support to Local Authorities to tackle the challenge of waste prevention in partnership with businesses, public organisations, and communities in their area. 

Cork County Council in partnership with South & East Cork Area Development Ltd were successful in receiving a grant aid to develop and implement a programme to encourage small & medium size enterprises, in South & East Cork, to reduce their consumption of materials, water & energy. This programme included the placement of a Waste Prevention Officer in East Cork to promote, advise and guide small to medium size enterprises in South & East Cork on waste prevention and water conservation.

For further information contact Claire Kelly, Waste Prevention Officer, by phone on 021 4613432 or by email: ecobusiness@secad.ie.

Waste Management (Food Waste) Regulations 2009

In December 2009, the Minister for the Environment signed the Waste Management (Food Waste) Regulations 2009 (S.I. No. 508 of 2009)

From 01 July 2010, commercial food waste, from a producer as defined in the regulations, can no longer go to landfill.

The Waste Management (Food Waste) Regulations, 2009, are designed to promote segregation and recovery of food waste arising in the commercial sector and reduce disposal to landfill. They will facilitate the targets set out in the EU Landfill Directive (1999/31/EC) to reduce the amount of Biodegradable Municipal Waste (BMW) going to landfill.

A website has been developed dedicated to the Food Waste Regulations. Sector specific factsheets on the regulations, frequently asked questions and food waste prevention information can be found here

EPA/CTC Publishes Food Waste Prevention Guide

The Less Food Waste - More Profit Guide provides step by step approach on how to eliminate, reduce, reuse, recycle, recover and dispose of food waste.

This guide has been researched and compiled by Clean Technology Centre, Cork Insitute of Technology in conjunction with the Green Hospitality Awards Programme (GHA) and supported by the Environmental Protection Agency's National Waste Prevention Programme (NWPP).

Less Food Waste More Profit: A Guide to Minimising Food Waste in the Catering Sector

Cork County Council Publishes Water Conservation for Businesses Guide

Water is one of our most basic requirements and is essential to life itself. This booklet is aimed at helping businesses monitor and reduce the amount of water they use. There is considerable wastage and loss of water on some supplies to individual premises. Small holes in a half-inch pipe can waste over 10,000 gallons of water per day! There is a growing consensus that the issue of water conservation is not the exclusive preserve of Local Authorities, this is an initiative where we can all play a part.

Water Conservation for Businesses

Community Projects & October is Reuse Month

National Reuse Month is a new waste prevention initiative to raise awareness about the economic and environmental benefits of reusing everyday items and materials that would otherwise go to waste. Throughout October, local and regional events all over Ireland are encouraged to promote ways for families, businesses and communities to reuse. Visit the Youtube link for video footage.

What can you do ?

Donating, refurbishing and repairing items are all forms of reuse.

SWAP items at home and with friends.

Visit a charity shop and upcycling shop which are popping up in towns and villages throughout the County.

Check your Tidy Towns group Facebook page to see it they are running any initiatives.

Green Schools

School Registrations & Flags Awarded in Co. Cork
Total no. of Schools in the County Total no. of Schools Registered No. of Flags Awarded
360 323 241





All schools have access to the Councils EARU's  Water Conservation Guide written especially for schools by Dr M. Stack and Biodiversity Guide or schools  written by Conor Neligan & Sharon Casey of CCC's conservation unit.  Several other publications sponsored by EARU such as 10 water facts sheets and Biodiversity fact sheets written by Sherkin Island Marine Station are available on disc and hard copy. |Environment the musical play resource pack is also available on request to EARU.> 90% of schools in Cork County are now registered to the Green Flag programme. 241 Flags for Litter & Waste and water conservation, energy, biodiversity and travel and global citizenship waste & energy themes. 


Green-Schools is an international environmental education programme and award scheme that promotes and acknowledges long-term, whole-school action for the environment. The promotes environmental management and sustainable development education for schools. The approach is a combination of learning and action for improving the environments of schools and their local communities. The programme influences the lives of young people, school staff, families, NGOs.  The programme is implemented by An Taisce with the assistance and sponsorship of local authorities.

Need assistance with composting?

Contact donal@wastedown.com for assistance with your compost bin operation.

Visit the compost demonstration site at Inniscarra waterworks on appointment to view 10 different types of composters in operation.

Visit the Waterworks if you are undertaking the water flag.

Email: cccdrinkingwater@corkcoco.ie  or Tel: 021 4532775

For more information on Green-Schools, click here.