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Tuesday 16 September 2014

Revealed: a third of our food goes in bin each year

Dannielle Stephens

Published 03/07/2014 | 02:30

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Dr Jonathon Derham of the Environmental Protection Agency said that Irish people throw away nearly a third of their food every year
Dr Jonathon Derham of the Environmental Protection Agency said that Irish people throw away nearly a third of their food every year

RESTAURANTS and households in Ireland dispose of 600,000 tonnes of waste per year, costing €1.8bn.

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Dr Jonathon Derham of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said that Irish people throw away nearly a third of their food every year.

He also warned that there is a problem with recycling in the commercial sector, which hasn't progressed as quickly as individual households have.

"Households have gone from a disposal rate of 80pc to 45pc over the past 10 years, but commercial rates have stayed around the 50pc mark, which is disappointing," he said.

European statistics estimate that 570kg of municipal waste is generated per person in Ireland each year. Of this, 45pc is recycled and composted, 39pc landfilled and 16pc incinerated.

Reaching EU recycling targets by 2030 will be "challenging", according to Irish waste management companies.

The EU announced proposals to increase recycling of municipal waste to 70pc by 2030, along with other proposals to encourage a 'green economy'.

Anne Fahey, managing director of Irish waste management firm Enviroco, thinks that more needs to be done to "educate the general public".

"The public need to understand from a practical point of view what happens with waste, but I don't think that there's enough information out there.

"We need more done in relation to advertising, showing spokespeople from recycling facilities or the likes, who explain how to better deal with waste," she added.

Regional waste coordinator for Southern Region Waste Management, Philippa King, said people need to start taking responsibility for the waste that they're producing.

"People normally don't put the same emphasis on recycling when they're in work as they do in their own homes. Obviously if you're paying for it like households do, you're going to make sure that it's done correctly."

Despite worrying levels of food being wasted every year, Dr Derham is confident Ireland can exceed EU targets by 2030.

"Ireland has met over 35 targets put to us in different areas of waste management and we're doing fabulously in comparison to other European countries," he added.

Other proposals laid out by the EU Commission include:

  • An 80pc packaging waste recycling target by 2030 which would be legally binding and applying to each country.
  • Ban on landfilling of recyclable and biodegradable waste by 2025 – legally binding and applying to each country.
  • A 30pc reduction in marine litter by 2020 – not legally binding but applying to each country.

Irish Independent

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