Embrace recycling methods to save nation's countryside
Published 08/02/2011 | 05:00
Did you know that a tractor-drawn tanker of pig slurry has the potential to provide enough energy to run an average family home for four months? Or that 1,000t of food/vegetable waste can supply the energy requirements of 50 houses for a year?
It gets even better. Having provided all this power, the remaining by-product is then available as a rich fertiliser for growing crops on farmland.
The technology to convert so-called 'waste products' into energy, and then subsequently into compost and fertiliser, has been successfully used for many years.
Combined heat and power (CHP) facilities that create electricity from organic materials are in operation throughout the world, yet here in Ireland we continue to dump huge quantities of valuable reusable material in holes in the ground.
Many of our landfill sites have been causing serious pollution for years to the groundwater in their vicinity and inflicting offensive odours on those unfortunate enough to live nearby. This form of vandalism cannot continue and while efforts are being made to make us alter our behaviour, they are meeting strong opposition.
We still appear to have our heads in the sand regarding sensible waste management. There are wonderful opportunities available to use the by- products of farming and industry to generate power and save on imported oil and fertiliser.
Despite this, there was business-led lobbying against the recently proposed landfill levy. The point of the levy was to encourage a gradual change in behaviour where businesses would be weaned off the cheap 'quick fix' of dumping and instead move to reusing and recycling wherever possible.
Food waste, instead of ending up in landfill, would be used to generate power and the residue would then be spread on farmland as a valuable, organic soil enricher.