Ireland may have to export glass for recycling

Following the closure of an Irish glass factory, which, last year, recycled the bulk of the country’s waste glass, industry and government fear that in the future, glass will have to be sent abroad for recycling.

Irish Glass’ manufacturing plant in Ringsend, Dublin, is being closed down by the company’s owners, Ardagh, due to a failure to secure improvements in work practices that were necessary to guarantee the future of the facility at Ringsend. The closure will take place at the end of May to the beginning of June, an Irish Glass spokesperson told edie. Last year, Irish Glass recycled the bulk of the 43,000 tonnes of glass recycled in the country.

“This is a serious regressive step in Ireland’s progress to date in achieving its recycling targets laid down by the EU,” said Andrew Hetherington, Chief Executive of the independent recycling industry body, Repak. “It may add to the already costly charges paid by industry to recycle its glass packaging.”

Since the development of the industry compliance scheme, the country has achieved its recycling targets, says Repak. However, according to the recycling organisation, the closure of this plant will seriously hinder Ireland’s ability to continue to meet these goals. “Irish Glass has a long history and tradition and we are obviously concerned for all staff and management involved, as well as for the future of glass recycling in Ireland signalled by the closure of Irish Glass.”

Repak has stated that the organisation will be devoting significant resources to finding an alternative facility for glass cullet.

“It is with great regret that this decision has been made,” said Ardagh’s Chief Executive, Eddie Kilty. “Our Ringsend operation has become increasingly uncompetitive and without major improvements in work practices, has no future. Protracted negotiations have failed to secure these improvements and the board has now made the only decision it could for the good of the group as a whole.”

Expressing his concern at the announcement, Environment Minister Noel Dempsey has also emphasised that his department will be examining its implications and will search for alternative avenues.

“Everyone is agreed that higher and sustained levels of recycling are crucial to dealing with the increased levels of waste which this country is producing and to ensure that we can retain our status as an environmentally conscious nation,” said Dempsey. “Glass recycling has been one of our relative success stories in recent years; many people have embraced the discipline of bringing their empty bottles to local bring banks.”

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