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Danger of Ireland Missing EU Target for Biodegradable Waste Diversion from Landfill

Ireland is now in significant danger of missing its 2010 target for diverting biodegradable municipal waste from landfill, according to the National Waste Report 2006 – published by the Irish Environmental Protection Agency.

Overall, the report shows that, although the quantity of waste that was recycled increased between 2005 and 2006, so, too, did the total quantity of waste generated.

Dr. Padraic Larkin, Deputy Director General of the Environmental Protection Agency, said – “This report shows that the amount of waste going to landfill is increasing – not decreasing as we would have expected if Ireland is to meet its EU commitment to landfill less than one million tonnes of biodegradable municipal waste by 2010.

“The EPA is calling for urgent action to reverse this trend. There are several policy instruments that could turn the tide within one to two years. These include increasing the landfill levy and banning the landfilling of untreated waste. This problem must be tackled in 2008.”

Quantities and rates of recycled waste

The quantity of waste being recycled continues to grow significantly. In 2006, the amount of municipal waste recycled increased by 18 per cent.  The figures show that an additional 14 per cent of household waste was recycled in 2006, with increases of 8 and 26 per cent for packaging waste and biodegradable municipal waste, respectively.

Despite the increases in the actual quantity of waste recycled, the rate of municipal waste recycling only increased from 34 per cent in 2005, to 36 per cent in 2006. The recycling rate for household waste remained at 22 per cent in the same period, despite the roll-out in all parts of the country of two-bin and three-bin systems for household waste collection and the large-scale use of bring banks (where 14 per cent more waste was deposited in 2006) and civic amenity sites (where 84 per cent more waste was deposited in 2006).

Dr. Gerry Byrne, EPA Programme Manager, said – “Overall, there is very good progress to report on the recycling front. Householders and businesses are willing to recycle once they are given the appropriate incentives and services.”

Increase in landfilling of waste

The quantity of municipal waste being disposed of to landfill increased by 8 per cent in 2006 – a disappointing result, given the overall progress in reducing landfill since 2001.

According to Dr Gerry Byrne – “significant problems remain with regard to waste disposal. Urgent action is required in 2008 to divert waste from landfill and prevent further increases in waste generation.”

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