‘Action needed’ to hit biodegradable waste targets

Promoting at-source composting, increasing the landfill levy and developing a national waste management plan are among the suggestions from Irish environmental experts to help the country divert more biodegradable material from landfill.

Hitting the Targets for Biodegradable Municipal Waste: Ten Options for Change, a discussion paper published by Ireland’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), makes ten recommendations.

It follows last week’s publication of the National Waste Report 2006, which warned that the country was in danger of missing its EU target for diverting waste from landfill.

The report showed that the total diversion of the organic fraction of biodegradable municipal waste (OFBMW) – largely food and garden waste – from landfill disposal was just 64,725 tonnes in 2006.

Under the EU’s Landfill Directive, Ireland’s target for 2010 is 647,033 tonnes rising to 941,891 tonnes by 2016.

John Curtis, of EPA’s Strategic Policy Research Unit, who wrote the new paper, said: “Within 3 years Ireland must completely change how it manages OFBMW and by 2016 it must develop in excess of 1m tonnes of additional capacity.”

His recommendations were:

  • Promote at-source composting
  • Expand R&D for at-source composting
  • Ban the landfill of untreated municipal waste
  • Increase the landfill levy
  • Undertake market research for treated OFBMW products
  • Provide a subsidy for the treatment of OFBMW
  • 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 OFBMW products
  • Responding to the paper, Environment Minister John Gormley said the country faced a “formidable challenge” and EPA’s reports would play an important role in a forthcoming Government review.

    He said: “The Government is committed to carrying out, as a matter of urgency, a review of waste policy which will examine the potential contribution of a range of technologies to improving waste management practices in Ireland.”

    Kate Martin

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