The north and south are sharing the costs of a feasibility study which examines the probable impact the facility would have on the paper recycling markets in the two countries.

Paper and paperboard make up a considerable chunk of both municipal and commercial waste and on both sides of the border recovery rates are increasing following the introduction of kerbside collection schemes and growing commercial initiatives.

However, while collection rates are rising there is a lack of infrastructure to recycle the material in Ireland so a significant amount of the recovered paper is exported for recycling.

This situation led to the co-operative study to see if an all-island approach could resolve the issue.

Potential benefits could include stable domestic recycling capacity and new, recycled paper products for the domestic market.

The investigation is being funded by the Department of the Environment (DOE) in Northern Ireland through WRAP and the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government (DEHLG) in the Republic of Ireland.

DOE Minister David Cairns said: “I welcome the publication of the study on the feasibility of an all island paper mill. The study provides valuable research and information for businesses interested in investing in this field.

“I hope that the report will help pave the way for the possibility of greater paper recycling through increased efficiency and added market value on the island of Ireland.”

Dick Roche, the republic’s Environment Minister, said: “The potential for additional reprocessing capacity should be explored and evaluated. This study will provide an excellent basis for going forward.

“It provides invaluable analysis and data for this industrial sector. What we are trying to achieve here is very much in line with the brief given to the market development group to explore ways in which stable markets and possibilities for reprocessing recyclable material can be identified and developed.”

The report suggests the best option for a shared facility could be a tissue mill as raw materials of suitable quality can be sourced locally, there is a local market for the product, it would be the only mill of its kind on the island and would be financially viable.

Now the groundwork is complete, the business community is being consulted to see if there is likely to be backing for the scheme.

If the consultants receive a positive response a detailed financial analysis will be carried out.

Sam Bond

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