Ireland warned to divert organic waste

IRELAND is facing daily fines of millions of euro if we don’t divert significant tonnes of organic waste going to landfill by 2010, a conference was told yesterday.

The EU will clamp down on Ireland’s organic waste regime if major changes are not made by the government, according to Cré, the Composting Association of Ireland.

At its annual conference yesterday, the association called on Environment Minister John Gormley to implement “significant changes” in order to avoid these hefty fines.

The theme of Cré’s conference is 2008, Now or Never — Maximising Diversion, in reference to the issue of diverting garden and food waste from landfill in order to meet our obligation under the EU Landfill Directive.

Only 7.9% of food and garden materials are not going to landfill, but this needs to be increased to 25% by 2010 in order to meet the requirement and avoid significant fines from the EU, according to Cré.

“If these targets are not met, then Ireland will have to pay daily fines of millions of euro,” said a spokesperson.

Executive administrator Percy Foster said they were asking the minister to “urgently address” the issue.

“We are outlining a range of initiatives that are cost-effective, create jobs, are environmentally friendly and sustainable. These initiatives will ensure we divert significant tonnage of food scraps and green garden material going to landfill by 2010 through source separation composting plants which produce a range of sustainable compost products that have high economic value.”

The initiatives Cré want include:

* Provision of drop-off collection for garden and landscape materials at each civic amenity site and disposal facility open to the public by the end of this year.

* Aggressive establishment of source-separated collection of domestic and commercial brown bins for all residents and businesses by the end of 2009.

* A substantial increase in the landfill levy to encourage recycling.

* The extension of the statutory instrument for commercial operators to require the segregation of food scraps.

* A phased ban of organic waste from landfill starting with garden/landscape materials by 2010, food scraps by 2013 and mixed waste by 2016.

* Creation of financial incentives for recycling, not disposal, like the REPAK for packaging waste, WEEE for electronic waste and also the forthcoming battery recycling scheme.

* Aggressive promotion of home composting as it prevents waste from going to landfills.

In 2006, 1.4 million tonnes of biodegradable waste were landfilled. “The quantity of waste going to landfill is in fact increasing and we urgently need to reverse this trend,” said Mr Foster. “Most of the composting facilities are already in place in this country but are running at half of their capacity due to the amount of waste going to landfill.”

He cited California as an example of how waste can be diverted from landfill. The state has achieved a 50% diversion rate and has a “zero waste” policy.


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