Irish think tank ponders future of waste

A leading Irish think tank has published recommendations outlining how the country's municipal waste could be managed in a more cost effective and less polluting way.

The ESRI’s report, An Economic Approach to Municipal Waste Management Policy in Ireland, looks at current shortcomings in the sector and offers suggestions on how to do the job at less cost to society and the environment.

Commissioned by Dublin City Council, it sets out alternatives to current government thinking on a revised waste strategy.

It says the market does not always work well and government intervention is required, particularly when it comes to addressing greenhouse emissions, dust and noise.

It also argues that the markets could be better brought to bear on the collection side of the operation, through competitive tendering for waste collection contracts.

The report proposes a regional cap and trade system that sets limits on the amount of waste that can be landfilled, in order to help the country meet its targets under the EU’s Landfill Directive.

It also suggests levies on each tonne of waste that vary depending on disposal method, up to €54.89 per tonne for landfilling, around to €5 for urban incineration, 50 Cents for rural incineration and somewhere around the €1 mark for Mechanical Biological Treatment (MBT).

It questions the government’s proposed policy of a fixed cap on incineration levels and disputes the validity of the international review of waste management, with its 25 recommendations.

“Ireland is at an important junction in municipal waste management policy,” says the report.

“Arbitrary limits on incineration and consequent expansion of MBT have no place in waste management policy.

“The international review’s setting of residual waste levies is flawed, suffering from both double regulation and double counting, with the result that some of the proposed levies are much higher than is appropriate.

“It does not provide the basis for a waste management policy that will create jobs, enhance competitiveness, and meet the EU Landfill Directive targets.”

Sam Bond

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