Irelands Environmental Protection Agency announced that it will be reviewing EPA licences for landfills, to reduce the amount of biodegradable waste going to landfill.
It will aim to:
* Maximise the use and value of waste before it is disposed of to landfill;
* Assist compliance with the European Union Landfill Directive;
* Reduce greenhouse gas emissions from landfills, and
* Reduce the potential for odour at landfills.
The EPA said that the management, processing and disposal of waste continue to be significant challenges in Ireland, in particular with regard to meeting obligations on the pre-treatment and disposal of waste at landfills as required under the EU Landfill Directive. In order to assist Irelands compliance with the Landfill Directive, the EPA will review landfill licences, restricting the quantity of biodegradable household and commercial waste that can be accepted by landfill operators.
EPA office of climate change director Laura Burke said: The landfill licence review is another vital step in the way we manage waste in Ireland. Our aim is to make the best possible use of all waste before it is finally disposed of. People in Ireland have clearly demonstrated their willingness to recycle paper, plastic and glass. We must now help them to do the same with food waste. If the waste can be recycled or recovered, then it should not be going to landfill.
The EPA has also published a technical guidance document entitled Municipal solid waste: Pre-treatment and residuals management to clarify the pre-treatment requirements for municipal waste for disposal at EPA licensed facilities.
The guidance document applies to operators and developers of both landfills and incinerators and indicates to the waste industry as a whole what it must do to improve overall performance.
EPA senior scientific officer Dr Jonathan Derham explained: The new requirements will lead to growth in the pre-treatment sector as businesses try to get further value from biodegradable waste. This will require waste segregation by consumers at source through the roll out of brown bins and will also help Ireland to meet its EU obligations for waste management. This guidance supports Government policy in respect of the role of source segregated waste collection and the extraction of recyclables.
Landfill tax in Ireland is currently €20 per tonne and the Minister for Environment John Gormley is currently looking at advice that would see the landfill tax double in the short term, and eventually quadruple (see MRW story).
Derham added: If no action is taken, Ireland will overshoot the first EU target for biodegradable waste to landfill in 2010 by 50 per cent or 500,000 tonnes.