Monday 17 November 2008

A third of landfills ‘full within two years’

NEARLY a third of the country’s 35 licensed landfills will be full within two years, according to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) figures.

11 of the 35 dumps could be forced to close by 2011, with a further four facing closure by 2014, according to documents seen by the Irish Examiner.

Waterford County Council’s landfill was one of the first to close and since 2006, they have been exporting waste to Carlow.

One of the next dumps to close will be in Mayo, as the Derrinumera Landfill will be out of capacity by the end of 2009.

And other dumps which are expected to reach capacity by 2010 include Fingal’s Ballealy landfill, south Co Dublin’s Arthurstown Landfill, Kilkenny County Council’s Dunmore Landfill and south Tipperary’s Donohill Landfill.

The figures show that with three million tonnes of waste being disposed at landfill each year, the country is facing a serious crisis as only about 25 million tonnes of total landfill capacity remain nationwide.

This means that even with super-dumps coming on stream at Bottlehill in Cork and at Drehed in Kildare, there is still only enough capacity for another 8-10 years of rubbish.

The looming crisis is put into even sharper focus when the EPA’s projections for Irish waste generation are examined. The EPA estimates the amount of waste generated by each person will rise from 0.84 tonnes in 2006 to 1.15 tonnes per person by 2020 — an increase they describe as “phenomenal”.

Also in 2010, the Government will also have to start complying with the EU landfill directive, which obliges members to reduce the amount of biodegradable municipal waste that is landfilled by nearly 50%. Waste management company Greenstar estimated taxpayers are likely to face fines of up to €240 million for non-compliance.

It is also expected that biodegradable municipal waste along with waste from households and commercial activities, will rise by 4% per year for the next decade, doubling by 2025 with the EPA estimating that there will be 60% increase in the landfilling of municipal waste by 2025.

Two-thirds of this municipal waste is biodegradable and this has led Green Party Environment Minister John Gormley to warn that the mechanical biological treatment of municipal waste has to form part of waste management policy.

The Programme for Government calls for landfill use to be reduced to 10% of waste management solutions.

Irish Examiner

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