Farm Ireland

Wednesday 17 January 2018

'If farmers bought exactly what they needed... there would be no hazardous waste'

Hazardous waste
Hazardous waste

Claire Mc Cormack

Farmers need an affordable national scheme to safely dispose of hazardous wastes, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has warned.

At a recent Teagasc beef open-day event, farmers also stressed their appetite for the setting up of an official annual collection scheme with the majority indicating that a permanent national scheme is required.

However, the Animal Plant and Health Association (APHA) said rolling out a national scheme in the near future would be "counterproductive".

Brendan Barnes, CEO of the APHA said farmers would be putting the "cart before the horse".

"The most responsible approach to waste is to purchase appropriate quantities for animals or crops. Then you won't have waste product"

"If farmers bought exactly what they needed then we wouldn't have legacy products and that needs to get into our psyche before we consider a national policy," he said.

Jane Brogan, EPA scientific officer, said data from previous collections show that average farmers are travelling roughly 40km, with some travelling up to 150km, to dispose of waste in the correct manner.

She said this commitment also clearly shows the farmers care about protecting themselves, their families and farms, as well as the wider environment.

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"Very few other countries have any hazardous waste collections for farmers. We're unique really," she said.

"We'd be pushing towards the establishment of a national scheme where ideally you would run one collection per county per year and then change the location.

"Or it could be regionalised to concentrate on Leinster one year and Connacht, Munster or Ulster another year," she said.

Under the current waste legislation, farmers are legally obliged to manage their waste. A farmer can only hold hazardous waste on his or her farm for six months and after that it's illegal and must be removed.

"The only other option available to farmers is phoning up a contractor independently, getting them to drive all the way to their farm which would be really expensive, whereas bringing it to a centralised area is much cheaper," she said.

Collection points will be open at selected centres in Cork, Kildare, Kerry, Leitrim, Roscommon, Westmeath, Monaghan and Meath, until the end of November.

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