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Ireland unveils waste policy

The Irish Government has launched a new waste management strategy following a five-year policy review.

Minister for the environment, community and local government Phil Hogan unveiled A Resource Opportunity: waste management policy in Ireland.  

Like their UK counterparts, Irish policy makers are set to review their producer responsibility system, crack down on fly-tipping, oversee a substantial planning shake-up and cut the amount going to landfill (see box below for more).  

Hogan said: “When we cut the amount of waste we direct to landfill, we also cut costs for families and businesses. The less waste people produce, the less they will have to pay.”

He said some waste management companies were not providing satisfactory services and that the new system would allow customers to switch their provider more easily.

“I’ll make sure consumers get the information they require so if they are not satisfied, they can switch provider.

“It’s not acceptable for firms to ignore the genuine complaints of their customers and they will be held to account for their failures under the new system,” the minister said.

The new regulations will allow waste collection companies to continue to compete for business but they will have to adhere to new standards of service, incentivise their customers to adopt more sustainable behaviours and be much more transparent about their charging structures, the document said.

Key policies in a Resource Opportunity include:  

  1. A move away from landfill: The country only has 12 years of capacity left
  2. A brown bin roll-out:  diverting organic waste from landfill including an increased role for anaerobic digestion
  3. Keeping costs down for the consumer by introducing a new and strengthened regulatory regime for the existing side by side competition model within the household waste collection market
  4. New service standards will ensure that consumers receive higher customer service standards from their operator. Charging structures will be more transparent and consumers will be able to compare costs and switch operators at ease.
  5. Placing responsibility on householders to prove they use an authorised waste collection service or manage their waste in an environmentally acceptable manner. This will help combat illegal fly-tipping, littering and backyard burning of waste by a minority of households
  6. The establishment of a team of waste enforcement officers for cases relating to serious criminal activity (e.g. diesel laundering) will be prioritised, in consultation with An Garda Síochána.
  7. Reducing red tape for Industry to identify and reduce any unnecessary administrative burdens on the waste management industry
  8. A review of producer responsibility will be examined as part of the Review of Producer Responsibility to ensure industry and business meet their obligations as producers of waste
  9. Significant reduction of planning regions from ten to three, allowing for greater efficiency in the delivery of planning while still recognizing geographical variations.

The report is available to download here

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