The Proposed National Hazardous Waste Management Plan aims to reduce and minimise the amount of hazardous waste being produced, and dispose safely of any waste that cannot be prevented.

Much of Ireland’s hazardous waste is generated by industry and includes industrial solvents, waste oils, industrial sludges and chemical wastes.

Small businesses, farms and sectors such as healthcare and construction also generate a lot of this kind of waste, such as batteries, electrical equipment, solvent based paint, varnish waste and sheep dip.

The plan makes a series of recommendations for the prevention of hazardous waste, the collection of this waste, regulations and infrastructure.

This includes making Ireland more self-sufficient to deal with its own hazardous waste instead of exporting material, and creating a comprehensive and accessible network of local drop-off facilities for householders and small businesses.

Dr Gerry Byrne, programme manager of the EPA’s Office of Climate, Licensing and Resource Use, said: “The bulk of hazardous waste generated by industry is well managed and therefore the focus for industrial sectors is on minimising the quantity of hazardous waste generated.

“In other sectors such as households, small businesses and farms, there is room for improvement in the collection of hazardous waste.

“We must establish improved and tailored systems for the management and collection of this hazardous waste.”

More than 280,000 tonnes of hazardous waste was generated in Ireland in 2006 – an 8% per drop since 2004. Nearly half is exported for treatment and disposal.

The plan has been published for public consultation until the end of January.

Ben Meggeson

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