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Irish Times - 29-02-08
Greenstar says Government waste policy too focused on incineration
BARRY O'HALLORAN

WASTE MANAGEMENT specialist Greenstar says Government policy is preventing it and other private-sector operators in its industry from investing in the Republic.

The NTR-owned company published a report yesterday that it commissioned from European environmental consultants Eunomia and Irish engineers Tobin, which warns that the Republic could face up to €270 million in fines because it is in danger of failing to meet EU waste management targets by 2010.

Greenstar's chief executive Steve Cowman yesterday met Minister for the Environment John Gormley.

Mr Cowman pointed out afterwards that the group had invested €450 million in waste management activities outside Ireland, but that it had to stall spending here because Government policy was focused on incineration to the detriment of other solutions.

He added Greenstar had plans to invest €100 million in mechanical biological treatment of waste, which the report recommends as the best way of meeting targets, but it could not because the necessary regulations and incentives were not in place.

The report warns that if the Government does not change its approach, the Republic will not meet EU targets until 2017.

The document recommends that the Government introduce incentives to support mechanical biological treatment, which involves recovering useful materials, breaking down biological matter into stable waste and disposing of it in landfills.

The incentives include increasing the landfill levy to €70 a tonne, charging €55 a tonne for incineration and a lower €15 charge for waste that has been through the mechanical biological process. The report's author, Dr Dominic Hogg, said yesterday that by signalling an increase in landfill levies, the Government would effectively give private-sector players the incentive needed to invest in other approaches.

The Republic's local authorities are responsible for drawing up regional waste management plans. Most of them include provision for prevention and recycling, along with incineration.

© 2008 The Irish Times

     

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