Irish waste management company Greenstar has said that the total volume of waste in the Irish market fell by over 20% in 2009, pushing profits down and it believes this is likely to continue through 2010.
Based on the throughput of all Greenstar facilities, the firm has already noted that waste arisings have fallen in the first quarter of 2010.
But, the fall in waste arisings combined with investment in new recycling and recovery infrastructure means that Ireland will actually exceed its waste diversion targets for 2010.
Greenstar chief executive Neil Parkinson said: “Profits are down due to the economic downturn but the industry is still investing in infrastructure to increase recycling efficiencies and maximise the recovery potential from waste streams. Every cloud has a silver lining and the combination of these factors means that Ireland is now set to meet the EU target and avoid fines from Europe.”
Ireland must divert 280,000 tonnes of biodegradable waste from landfill by 2010. Greenstar believes Ireland will actually divert 330,000 tonnes by the end of the year.
Additionally, Greenstar has published a report it commissioned from DKM Economic Consultants, which estimates that Ireland would be fined from €687,660 to a maximum of €46m if it missed its diversion targets. This is contrary to the hundreds of millions of euros previously estimated in media reports. This backs up a 2008 report by the Irish Department of Environment, which estimated the fines would be €20-30m.
“The European penalties are no longer the big economic threat that they once were,” added Parksinson.
He continued: “While we recognise that a review of our own operations does not cover the entire industry, Greenstar, as Ireland’s largest recycling and waste management company, handling circa 1m tonnes annually, is a fair representative sample and a good indicator of wider market trends.”
The firm has also confirmed it is investing in a new 80,000 tonne facility at its facility at the Millennium Park, Dublin, which will manufacture Solid Recovered Fuel (SRF). Greenstar is also currently installing a mechanical biological treatment (MBT) plant with a processing capacity of 100,000 tonnes in Cork. Both facilities will begin operating later this year.