Cork County Council officials closed a recycling centre in West Cork because “contamination” was so high the 'recycled' items, which included soiled nappies hidden in cornflake boxes, had to be sent to landfill or incinerated.
The reason for the closure was outlined to councillors at a meeting of the council's Western Division after they asked why the council-run 'bring site' in Dunmanway was no longer operating as normal.
Independent councillor Declan Hurley asked council officials to reinstate the paper, cardboard and plastic recycling service which was axed six months ago during the early stages of the Covid-19 restrictions.
His call was supported by Fianna Fail councillor Deirdre Kelly and Fine Gael councillor Karen Coakley.
Louis Duffy, the head of the council's environment directorate, said recycling services had been withdrawn because “contamination,” such as the soiled nappies, “had got to such a point that a lot of the waste had to go to landfill or incineration.” He said continuing with the service would mean added monitoring by placing staff at the centre and this had cost implications on the already cash-strapped council.
Meanwhile, Independent councillor Danny Collins complained that a twice-weekly recycling collection service in Bantry had also been shelved.
The facility was provided by a contractor with a compaction vehicle at a car park in the town.
Mr Duffy said space had become constricted there and led to health and safety issues. Again, he said staff would have to be employed to address this and it would be very costly.
Mr Duffy claimed it would cost the council up to €120,000 per annum to run it properly and there was no income from it as they had been offering the public free recycling.
He pointed out that people could avail of a Civic Amenity Site (CAS) a short distance outside the town and there was also one a few miles from Dunmanway.
Clodagh Heneghan, the council's deputy chief executive, was asked by councillors if the Bantry and Dunmanway services could be maintained if they introduced small charges to the public.
She said that question would have to be addressed by them when they shortly sit down to debate their countywide budget for 2021.
But Ms Heneghan added that a major stumbling block was also a lack of outdoor staff.
“The big hurdle at this point though is finding funding,” she said.
Council chief executive Tim Lucey recently warned that there could be a lot of increases in charges and cuts to services because the council is facing a €19.1m budget deficit, primarily due to the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Meanwhile, the council is looking at rolling out contactless payments at civic amenity sites across the country.