DUBLIN CITY Council has predicted that the volume of municipal waste in the capital would increase by one-third to reach 4 million tonnes annually by 2025 “to be trucked to landfills around the country” in the absence of an incinerator at Poolbeg.
Responding yesterday to claims by the Green Party and the Irish Waste Management Association that the planned incinerator was too big at 600,000 tonnes per annum, it said there was “no space in Dublin’s landfills” for the city’s waste “until Poolbeg opens”.
The council noted that the 2009 national waste report, published by the Environmental Protection Agency, said Ireland’s waste infrastructure, including waste-to-energy plants such as Poolbeg, “remains underdeveloped”.
It also noted the agency’s conclusion that it would be “a challenge” to meet waste diversion and recovery targets under EU directives “if municipal waste generation increases with economic recovery and the necessary waste infrastructure is not in place”.
A spokesman for Covanta, the council’s US partners in the Poolbeg project, said the 8 per cent fall in Dublin’s municipal waste in 2009, as reported by the agency “is exactly what was predicted by Covanta last year [and] comes as no surprise”.
He said Covanta’s business case with the Dublin authorities “is based on a reduction in the amount of waste being produced by individual households and an increase in the amount of recycling.” But the waste management association, which represents most private sector waste companies, insisted that the agency’s report “confirms that the proposed Poolbeg incinerator is seriously oversized relative to the Dublin region waste market”.
Spokesman Brendan Keane said the latest data highlighted “significant errors” made by the ESRI in its waste reports for Dublin City Council by predicting waste growth for 2008 and 2009 when, “in reality, waste levels plummeted by more than 13 per cent”.
This meant the local authorities “do not have enough waste for a 600,000-tonne incinerator at Poolbeg” and that “the writing is on the wall” for the project, which could expose taxpayers to up to €350 million in penalty payments.
“Waste levels are falling, recovery rates are rising and local authorities are exiting the waste market. Incineration is part of the solution to Ireland’s management of waste, but the Poolbeg project should be resized to approximately 300,000 tonnes per annum,” Mr Keane said.