Ambitious goals for recycling key to waste policy
LAST month, Environment Minister John Gormley published a draft waste management policy which clearly set out his opposition to landfilling and incinerating waste.
"Waste is not a problem that has to be buried or burned. Waste is a resource that can create jobs and improve competitiveness and enhance prosperity," he said. His draft policy -- which is currently out for public consultation -- includes fining local authorities which fail to prevent waste going to landfill or being incinerated, and imposing a levy on operators who use these least-favoured options.
The cornerstone of the policy is ambitious recycling targets. Some 70pc of commercial waste should be recycled by 2016, up from 55pc at present. And 75pc of packaging waste and 90pc of construction waste would be recycled within six years. Household waste -- plastic bottles, paper, aluminum cans, glass -- would be sent abroad for recycling, with waste companies paid for supplying the product.
By 2020, each person in Ireland should produce just 150kg of non-recyclable waste. This compares with 250kg today.
Every home in the country would also have a brown bin to dispose of compostable waste -- that is vegetable peelings, tea bags, egg shells and other organic matter. Mechanical and Biological Treatment (MBT) plants would take black bin waste and materials that cannot be recycled or composted -- for example plastic bags -- and these could be incinerated or sent to landfill.
Mr Gormley believes up to 400,000 tonnes of waste could be diverted from incineration through roll-out of MBT plants.
A cornerstone of the policy is waste prevention, and the Environmental Protection Agency is tasked with implementing this.