Ireland reviews waste management policy

A tax escalator which would see gate fees on materials going to landfill rise year on year could be the single most effective mechanism to cut waste in Ireland.

This was the conclusion of a review of waste management policy commissioned by the Irish Government.

The report was compiled by an international team led by Bristol-based consultants Eunomia and examines all aspects of waste management policy, from prevention and minimisation to the management of residual waste.

Speaking at its launch, Environment Minister John Gormley said: “I was determined that our review of waste management should be a root and branch one, and it is. The Eunomia report provides a blueprint for change.

“Changing the way we collect and treat our waste will benefit not just our environment, but also our economy. It will create jobs in new waste industries.

“It will enhance competitiveness of the wider economy as a whole. It will drive innovation which in turn will drive job creation.”

The Minister also announced increases to the landfill levy to drive waste from landfill in order to meet challenging EU targets, the first of which occurs in 2010.

The levy will increase to €30 per tonne by 2010, to €50 in 2011 and to €75 in 2012.

“Earlier this year the Government also decided to introduce an incineration levy.

“While the actual rate of the levy will need to relate to the rates of landfill levy which I have just announced I do envisage that the incineration levy will be in the range of €20 to €38 per tonne” said the Minister.

Industry has given a cautious welcome to the plans, with Ireland’s largest recycler Greyhound Recycling & Recovery saying a landfill escalator is a good start, but the initial fee has been pitched too low to be immediately effective.

Greyhound boss Brian Buckley said the levy should increase to €40 per ton next year, as recommended in the Eunomia report.

“While any increase in the levy is welcome, the increase of €10 per ton for 2010 will not deter businesses and households from using landfill as a solution to the waste they generate,” said Mr Buckley.

“companies like Greyhound Recycling have infrastructure in place to manage the tonnage generated which should be diverted from landfill, and this infrastructure will not add additional costs to waste producers.

“If people are not forced financially to change habits to comply with the EU Landfill Directive, why will change occur?”

Sam Bond

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