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Ireland needs to burn more, not less waste - EPA

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Dublin City Council's landbank earmarked for the Poolbeg incinerator

Dublin City Council's landbank earmarked for the Poolbeg incinerator

Dublin City Council's landbank earmarked for the Poolbeg incinerator

THE export of municipal waste is a "lost resource opportunity" and more should be done to keep it in the country and burn it for energy, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has said.

More than 843,000 tonnes of refuse was sent abroad in 2012, the vast majority of which was converted into energy at incinerators in Europe.

The EPA believes there should be incentives in place to retain it in Ireland so it can be turned into a fuel.

It comes as Dublin City Council decides on the future of the proposed waste-to-energy incinerator in Poolbeg.

In the 2012 National Waste Report, published yesterday, the EPA said there was an increase of 36pc in the export of municipal waste - including household and some commercial refuse - to be used for energy recovery between 2011 and 2012.

"Incineration plants on mainland Europe are under-supplied and, thus, there is a market for such export.

"The export of waste for energy recovery is a lost resource opportunity for the State," the document states.

"Incentives to keep waste for both energy and recycling ... within the State should be pursued," it adds.

Ireland has just one municipal incinerator, located outside Duleek in Co Meath. It opened in 2011.

"This contributed to increased recovery rates with 17pc of managed municipal waste used as a fuel. In addition, cement kilns are also accepting waste for use as a fuel," the reports says.

In its report, the EPA said that 2012 was the first year the percentage tonnage of municipal waste recovered (59pc) - mainly for recycling or incineration - exceeded the percentage tonnage disposed of in landfills (41pc).

In 2012, some 427,093 tonnes "was incinerated/used as a fuel", up from 195,622 in 2011. A total of 1,027,577 tonnes was put in landfills.

When asked about the Poolbeg incinerator, the EPA said it is "neither for nor against incineration". It added the location of incinerators is "a matter for the planning authorities".

ELECTRICITY

A tonne of solid waste in a modern incinerator produces 650Kwh of electricity, enough to service an average home for a month and a half.

Overall, some 2,692,537 tonnes of waste was generated in 2012, 4.6pc lower than the 2011 figure.

Of that, 2,478,337 tonnes was managed, meaning it was disposed of properly through kerbside collections or at dumps.

Ireland has one of the best records in the EU in relation to per capital waste generation, said Dr Jonathan Derham, EPA Programme Manager.

comurphy@herald.ie


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