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Ireland behind on EU targets

Irish waste management company, Celtic Composting Systems, has said that Ireland cannot develop any form of biowaste infrastructure in time to help meet its European Union commitment to landfill less than one million tonnes of municipal waste by 2010.

The claims come amid the release of the Environment Protection Agencys (EPA) report entitled Hitting the targets for biodegradable municipal waste: ten options for change, which calls for urgent action if Ireland is to meet its EU targets.

Celtic Composting Systems managing director Andrew Walsh said: In relation to the EPA report, given the timeframe to develop any form of meaningful biowaste infrastructure, which include composting facilities, biogas plants and mechanical biological treatment sites, it would seem highly improbable that Ireland can now make up the shortfall by 2010.

It is clear that Ireland has been depending on paper and cardboard recycling and incinerator capacity to achieve this shortfall. The infrastructure has been largely neglected and has been developing on an ad hoc localised basis as opposed to following a national policy driver.

The EPA report focused particularly on organic municipal waste where 92% is landfilled. The main issue underlying the report is that the outcomes being achieved with regard to municipal waste are less than satisfactory. Latest data from the National Waste Report shows that 1.4 million tonnes of waste was landfilled in 2006.

Walsh said that there had been no proper incentive to divert biowaste from landfill. He said: Fundamentally, legal and fiscal instruments have been absent, for example, no compost or stabilised biowaste standards, no landfill, a static landfill tax and no specific capital grants for the private sector. As a result, there has been no genuine incentive to divert biowaste from landfill and the risks have been high for those developing the few private biowaste facilities that do exist. Now the industry may be required to respond in a less than ideal accelerated manner that could have been avoided.

The report suggests ten areas for consideration to encourage diversion of this waste from landfill which are:

* Promote at-source composting
* Expand research and development for at-source composting
* Ban the landfill of untreated municipal waste
* Increase the landfill levy
* Undertake market research for treated organic municipal waste products
* Provide a subsidy for the treatment of organic municipal waste
* Develop and assign responsibility for a national waste management plan
* Develop guidance on waste infrastructure and contaminated sites
* Develop stabilised biowaste standards
* Encourage green procurement and undertake marketing of organic municipal waste products.

Image: Celtic Composting Systems logo

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