Minister for the Environment John Gormley has been called on to ban the exportation of ash material produced from waste incineration in Ireland.
The Irish Waste Management Association (IWMA) said the country should manage the waste itself, which is likely to reach 250,000 tonnes over the next few years under current proposals. According the organisation, this would amount to the loss of a commodity worth over €20 million per year.
Waste generated by the proposed Poolbeg incinerator, which has a capacity of 600,000 tonnes per annum, is required to be exported under imposed planning conditions. Up 25,000 tonnes of the ash produced each year could be hazardous in nature.
The IWMA has written to Mr Gormley, urging him to discuss with Dublin City Council how this ash can be treated within Ireland.
“Exporting ash is wrong environmentally, economically and is totally unsustainable in the modern era. It also leaves us vulnerable under the law and increases costs to the consumer," said IWMA chairman Jim Kells.
"Instead of recognising the resource value of the ash, we are literally shipping money and jobs out of the country. We are imposing our waste on other countries and will remain completely reliant on these countries to continue accepting our ash. Germany has already banned this material from entering its borders. As we saw from the temporary collapse of the dry recyclables market last year, over-reliance on export routes can place a huge strain on our ability to function. It is imperative Ireland can manage what it produces."
Under a new Waste Framework Directive approved by Member States last November, countries could refuse to accept waste from neighbouring states under the principle that waste should be treated as close as possible to where it is produced.
"We are calling on the Minister for Environment to exercise his powers to create the regulatory certainty that will incentivise investment in the necessary treatment facilities and to allow us realise the benefits that can accrue from these exciting new developments," Mr Kells said.
"The Minister can make this happen and signalling a ban on ash exportation would be a good start."