Cllrs hear plans on reducing Ireland’s ‘waste mountain’

Cllrs were told of the need to reduce Ireland’s annual “waste mountain” of 14 million tonnes.

Details of a national plan to reduce Ireland’s yearly “waste mountain” of 14 million tons were outlined to Meath county councillors by the regional head of the waste management planning office.

Hugh Coughlan is Regional Co-ordinator, Eastern-Midlands Region Waste Management Planning Office on the Draft National Waste Management Plan for a circular economy which is the subject of a statutory public consultation process from 3rd May to 5th June next.

At present there is a 41 per cent rate of recycling municipal waste. The overall aim of the plan is to have zero total waste growth per person – at present we are producing about 2.7 tons for every person in the state, government and statutory agencies are trying to stop us from going above that level. We need to target more sustainable consumption, optimize the circulation of materials, and engage all citizens in the process of reducing waste.

The plan has targets around domestic waste, construction waste, reducing the quality of materials as well as reducing contamination. “For the first time we are one of the only countries in Europe to introduce a ‘reuse’ target and the target there is 10kg per person, resulting in a reduction of 50,000 tonnes a year” Mr Coughlan said.

Increasingly, people will be asked to reduce, reuse, repair and recycle but in addition there would have to be a greater input from the local authorities which spend e280 million in terms of the provision of waste services.

At a minimum, €40 million would be needed to promote the plan in areas such as communication, enforcement, and infrastructure.

Commenting on the plan, Fianna Fail Cllr Paul McCabe said that there would have to be a greater concentration on enforcement of current legislation on dumping. Mr Coughlan replied that within the plan there is a commitment to review the enforcement powers of the local authorities. Fines for breaches of the pollution act will also be reviewed. There would also be moves to reduce the amount of waste we export – two million tons. By doing that there would be a potential for creating jobs within the country, he said.

Replying to Social Democrat Cllr Ronan Moore, Mr Coughlan said there was a need for manufacturers to produce less complex packaging of goods. Fine Gael Cllr Yemi Adenuga said there was a need to recruit young people for the task of creating a “circular economy”.

Mr Coughlan said that the local authorities were working with An Taisce in creating a schools programme. A lot of work was going on with schools and universities. Labor Party Cllr Elaine McGinty wanted to know what part incineration played in the waste management plan

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Andrew Naughtie

News reporter and author at @websalespromo