EPA orders waste firm Country Clean to stop accepting food waste

The Environmental Protection Agency has ordered an under-fire waste firm to shut down the food waste operation at its Cork City depot.

The EPA confirmed last night that Country Clean Recycling, one of Ireland’s largest waste processing companies, which controls most of the waste collection routes in Cork City and county, has already exceeded its annual tonnage limit for separately collected bio-waste — the brown bin waste — that it is allowed to process at its Churchfield facility, just nine months after it was licensed to handle waste.

The EPA has told the company to stop accepting food waste at the facility with immediate effect.

Under the terms of its licence, Country Clean was licensed to process 1,040 tonnes of food waste on the site in a calendar year.

However, the Irish Examiner has learned that the company notified the EPA on September 30 that the tonnage of food waste it had processed at the facility at that point was “non-compliant with the licence limit”.

The EPA confirmed last night that, as of September 30, the Churchfield depot had taken in 1,139.62 tonnes of food waste — almost 100 tonnes more within nine months than its licence allowed over 12 months.

A spokesman for Country Clean said its annual limit for food waste is just 1% of its overall annual tonnage at the Churchfield depot.

“As is normal practice with an EPA licence, we have asked the EPA to reallocate tonnage away from our black bag waste over to our separately collected bio-waste tonnage,” said the spokesman. “We made our submission to the EPA and are awaiting their reply.”

The Northside Says No To Rubbish campaign group, which is fighting to have the facility shut down, declined to comment.

The development is the latest to hit the Churchfield depot. Local residents, who have complained about odours and noise from late-night operations, have waged a sustained campaign since the summer to highlight compliance issues at the facility.

In August, the EPA confirmed it was treating the depot as a “national priority site” after “a poor level of compliance” and several licence breaches were identified.

Country Clean has said that it is working with the EPA to introduce a range of recommended mitigation measures. However, some of those measures are understood to cost in the region of €500,000.

Its Churchfield depot is now processing most of the domestic waste produced in the city following the closure of the Kinsale Road landfill, and Country Clean’s purchase of Healy’s Blue Bins.

Meanwhile, Ann Doherty, chief executive of Cork City Council, said last night that a draft regional waste management plan for the South West will be published next month for a period of public consultation.


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