Ireland aims for self sufficiency in national hazardous waste management plan

Waste prevention, and provision of adequate national collection and management infrastructure form the cornerstones of a new draft National Hazardous Waste Management plan was launched for consultation this week.

The strategy, launched by Mr. Noel Dempsey, Irish Minister for the Environment and Local Government, identifies “significant gaps” in Irelands hazardous waste management infrastructure. It cites poor collection rates, particularly for unreported wastes from small-scale generators, and the lack of certain recovery and disposal facilities for particular types of hazardous waste. Also, it points out that large quantities of certain types of hazardous wastes are exported, making Ireland dependent on facilities in other countries and contradicting EU policy for waste to be managed locally.

In 1996 Ireland generated an estimated 327,500 tonnes of hazardous wastes, of which:

  • 141,000 tonnes were disposed of or recovered on site;
  • 36,500 tonnes were disposed of or recovered off site (3,000 tonnes went to landfill);
  • 52,000 tonnes were exported; and
  • 98,000 tonnes went unreported.

Trends between 1996 and 1998 show an overall increase in hazardous waste arisings. Exports have reportedly increased by 30-40%, while amounts treated at local facilities have risen by around 20%.

Dempsey noted that the primary focus is “rightly placed on waste prevention. This must be our first management response. It is the safest approach; it saves money and can directly benefit Irish industry.”

The plan aims to halt the increase in waste generation, with a prevention programme including demonstration projects, information dissemination, assistance to industry and educational initiatives. It promises to increase savings to industry by “significant investment” in financial and technical assistance to participating companies. However, this goes hand in hand with “potentially unpopular decisions” required to achieve prevention and improved regulation of small generators. The expected cost of the programme will be £5.5 million/year over seven years.

“Ultimately”, said the Minister “it could be cost neutral as business and industry benefits financially from cost savings. We will need to look closely at mechanisms for funding this kind of investment and at the respective contributions that should be made by Government and industry.” The consultation period ends 30 November 1999.

The Summary of the plan is linked below in pdf format (requires Acrobat Reader).

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