The Irish Government will make €14 million (£13m) available to local authorities to help fund domestic recycling facilities in response to the dramatic fall in material prices.
An action group was set up by the Irish Environment Minister John Gormley, in October 2008, to examine the decrease in demand for recyclates. The action group published its first report before Christmas to propose actions to tackle the difficult market conditions.
Gormley said that €14m will be made available to local authorities this year to help finance recycling facilities around the country and develop markets domestically for recycled material.
He said that he persuaded the European Commission to undertake a comprehensive review of the current situation with a view to establish whether there is any European Union aid available to help the sector.
Ireland exports 85% of its recycling material, and the price fall has led to serious difficulties within the recycling industry in Ireland. The report explains that Ireland needs to develop a combination of indigenous processing activity as well as the option to export material for processing in other countries where the market demand exists and it makes good business sense to do so.
The study also explains that anecdotal evidence suggested that some small operators were ceasing collection of recycling bins and requesting their customers to use the black bin only and local authorities indicated that the additional costs associated with recycling would have to be passed to householders.
Gormley added: I also intend bringing forward proposals in the new year in relation to waste levies including landfill charges. The aim of these proposals will be to increase the costs of alternatives to recycling.
My work, and the work of the action group has just begun. We need to ensure that our very successful recycling rates in Ireland are not jeopardised by the ongoing economic situation.
Related story, Irish Government told 'protect recycling', (17/12/08)