Irish recycling goes underground

Underground recycling storage could be the future of waste management, according to Ireland's Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Dick Roche TD.

Many other countries, including Belgium, France, Germany and the Netherlands have already extensively used underground recycling systems, and Mr Roche stated that Ireland looked forward to making use of more aesthetically pleasing, less obtrusive alternatives to the more traditional bottle banks currently seen throughout Ireland.

“The concept of utilising underground space for the storage of recyclables provides a novel approach in Ireland to encouraging recycling, while simultaneously improving both the visual and environmental impact of our traditional bottle bank sites,” he explained.

The new systems will provide storage for up to 5 cubic metres of waste, the equivalent to a 20-foot square room that is 10 feet tall, and only the disposal receptacle would be visible above the ground.

Various units have been designed to cater for the collection of either household or commercial waste, and Mr Roche believes that the underground systems will offer many benefits – particularly in dense urban areas, or in apartment blocks where storage space can be hard to find.

Other advantages include improved access for disabled, young and elderly people, enhanced security for containers from misuse and vandalism, extended container life, reduced servicing and replacement costs, improved hygiene and odour control, and a general improvement to tidiness and cleanliness for the surrounding areas.

“The development in Ireland of underground recycling systems provides a clear indication of our progress in the roll out of the type of infrastructure needed to ensure success in what we are trying to achieve in the area of recycling,” Mr Roche stated, “and, ultimately, the diversion of waste from landfill.”

Ireland’s overall recycling rates were recently shown to be up to 28.4% from 20.7% in the Environmental Protection Agency’s national waste database interim report for 2003. The volume of municipal waste consigned to landfill was also shown to have dropped for the second year running.

By Jane Kettle

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