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Irish Times - 28-02-08
Govt 'must act' to avoid waste fines
Eoin Burke-Kennedy

Ireland lacks the infrastructure to deal with its biodegradable waste and risks being fined €270 million a year by the European Union, a report has warned.

The study, by environmental consultants Eunomia and Tobin Consulting Engineers for waste management firm Greenstar, claims the Mechanical Biological Treatment (MBT) of waste is the only "internationally proven technology" that can help Ireland meet its 2010 targets.

MBT, a process strongly advocated by Minister for Environment John Gormley, allows for the organic content of waste to be broken down as much as possible and treated before the residue is sent to landfill.

But the report, entitled Meeting Ireland's Waste Targets: The Role of MBT , said there was a lack of necessary policies, regulations and incentives to enable the process play a role in Ireland's waste management.

It claimed this was due to the Government's "singular focus on incineration" as the only solution to its waste problem for over ten years.

"Despite this fact, no incinerator has yet been built and . . . the earliest one could now come on line is several years after the initial EU deadline has passed," it said.

However these findings have been disputed by leading waste management consultant PJ Rudden, who believes that although MBT has a place in the waste hierarchy, it would not solve Ireland's overall waste problem and would "only result in more waste going to landfill".

Last month an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) report found the volume of waste going to landfill was increasing despite a Government campaign to promote recycling.

The State risks being fined as much as €270 million a year by 2010 if it fails to make significant reductions in the rate of biodegradable waste going to landfill.

Eunomia director Dr Dominic Hogg said: "Time is not a luxury if Ireland is serious about tackling its biodegradable waste problem. Our analysis suggests that MBT is the only technology that can be brought online in time to affect the 2010 deadline."

Greenstar CEO Steve Cowman said: "Ireland needs to stop sitting on its hands and recognise that we have backed the wrong horse if we are looking to incineration to provide a solution before 2010."

© 2008 The Irish Times


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