Wednesday 30 January 2008

Rise in landfill waste despite EU warnings

THE amount of waste being disposed of at landfill continues to increase in the face of an EU directive on reduction.

This country runs the risk of breaking EU environmental targets following an EPA report that shows biodegradable municipal waste has risen by 15% and the quantity of municipal waste is up by 11% on the previous year.

The collection of 7.4kg of waste electrical and electronic equipment per capita is almost double the EU target of 4kg per capita, the National Waste Report 2006 shows.

Construction and demolition waste accounts for 55% of all waste and stands at almost 17 million tonnes.

“This report shows that the amount of waste going to landfill is increasing, not decreasing as we would have expected if Ireland is to meet its EU commitment to landfill less than one million tonnes of biodegradable municipal waste by 2010,” said deputy director general of the EPA Dr Padraic Larkin.

“The EPA is calling for urgent action to reverse this trend. There are several policy instruments that could turn the tide within one to two years. These include increasing the landfill levy and banning the landfilling of untreated waste.

“This problem must be tackled in 2008,” said Mr Larkin.

The report shows that the quantity of waste being recycled continues to rise with recycled municipal waste up by 18%; recycled household waste up by 14% and recycled packaging waste up by 8%.

The quantity of municipal waste sent to landfill increased by 8%. Urgent action is required to reverse this trend if Ireland is to have any chance of meeting the landfill diversion targets for 2010 set by the Landfill Directive.

Despite the increases in the actual quantity of waste recycled, the rate of municipal waste recycling only increased from 34% in 2005 to 36% in 2006.

The recycling rate for household waste remained at 22% in the same period despite the roll-out in all parts of the country of two-bin and three-bin systems for household waste collection and the large-scale use of bring banks, where 14% more waste was deposited in 2006, and civic amenity sites, where 84% more waste was deposited in 2006.

Dr Gerry Byrne, EPA programme manager, said: “Overall, there is very good progress to report on the recycling front. Householders and businesses are willing to recycle once they are given the appropriate incentives and services.

“Significant problems remain with regard to waste disposal. Urgent action is required in 2008 to divert waste from landfill and prevent further increases in waste generation,” said Dr Byrne.

Irish Examiner

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