THE Composting Association of Ireland (Cre) has called on the government to dramatically increase the state's landfill levy from 15 per tonne to at least 50 per tonne to encourage businesses to compost their biodegradable waste.
The association's executive administrator, Percy Foster, said the country looks set to be fined up to 200m a year by the European Commission if it fails to meet a series of directives covering the disposal of biodegradable waste, which are due to come into force in 2010.
Meanwhile, the Department of the Environment has conceded that meeting the targets would require "urgent, concerted and sustained efforts all round to meet the directive's targets", and indicated that incineration may be one of the technologies employed by the government to achieve this.
Under the directives, Ireland must reduce the amount of biodegradable waste it sends to landfill to 75% of its 1995 level. However, in 2005, it sent 101.4% of this figure to landfill, which according to Foster, is partly due to the low take-up of composting.
"The recovery rate for organic waste that can be composted was just 6.4% in 2005 and we need to make drastic changes to achieve our European targets, " he said.
Foster said one of the main obstacles to the development of composting facilities in Ireland was the low cost of landfill, which he believes may be responsible for a surprising drop-off in the waste supplied to many composting companies in recent months, particularly in Dublin.