Sunday 7 February 2010

50% rise in landfill levy to 'encourage green alternatives'

Environment Minister John Gormley has increased the landfill charge to €30 - a 50% increase in just over a month and he intends increasing it further in the future.

Last December, the minister increased the landfill levy from €20 to €25 per tonne as part of a strategy to encourage other forms of disposal - such as recycling, mechanical and biological treatments.

"By increasing the levy to €30 per tonne, I am beginning to address the race to the bottom in landfill gate fees which we have witnessed and which acts as a barrier to achieving the diversion targets," Mr Gormley said.

The minister is to publish a bill on levies, which will see the landfill levy to increase to €50 per tonne in 2011 and €75 in 2012. The minister said he was committed to implementing the measures needed to ensure Ireland meets 2010 and subsequent EU landfill diversion targets.

About 3.4 million tonnes of municipal waste is generated annually - and, of this, 2 million is disposed in landfills, equating to a 36% recycling rate. Achieving the national recycling and biological treatment targets and those of the landfill directive will result in the diversion of about 80% of biodegradable municipal waste from landfill by 2016.

Biodegradable waste includes food and garden waste, wood, paper, cardboard and textiles and makes up about 75% of landfill material. To meet the directive’s target, around 1.4 million tonnes of biodegradable waste will need to be diverted this year, rising to 1.8m tonnes by 2016.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is reviewing landfill licences to reduce the amount of biodegradable waste going to landfill. Data from the EPA’s National Waste Report 2008 shows the quantity of biodegradable municipal waste sent to landfill fell by almost 20% in 2008 to 1.2 million tonnes.

Mr Gormley said Ireland must divert a further 280,000 tonnes of bio- degradable waste by July to meet the first landfill directive target date.

He stressed that the roll-out of the brown bin service was crucial in meeting targets - "The separate kerbside collection of household food and garden waste in brown bins increased substantially from 18,705 tonnes in 2007 to 37,920 tonnes in 2008 and I would expect to see further increases in 2009."

Mr Gormley said local authorities are urged to hasten the roll out of segregated collections for organic waste (brown bins) and to promote home composting.

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