EPA calls for changes in how food and garden waste is managed

Date released: Feb 01 2008

The EPA today released a discussion paper entitled Hitting the Targets for Biodegradable Municipal Waste: Ten Options for Change.  

The main issue underlying the paper is that the outcomes being achieved with regard to biodegradable municipal waste are less than satisfactory.  Latest data from the recently released National Waste Report shows that 1.4 million tonnes of such waste was landfilled in 2006.  The EPA is calling for urgent action if Ireland is to meet its EU commitment to landfill less than one million tonnes by 2010 and just 0.45 million tonnes by 2016.

The paper focuses particularly on organic municipal waste (largely food and garden waste) where 92 per cent is landfilled and suggests ten areas for consideration to encourage diversion of this waste from landfill

The ten options are:

  • Promote at-source composting.
  • Expand R&D for at-source composting.
  • Ban the landfill of untreated municipal waste.
  • Increase the landfill levy.
  • Undertake market research for treated organic municipal waste products.
  • Provide a subsidy for the treatment of organic municipal waste.
  • Develop and assign responsibility for a national waste management plan.
  • Develop guidance on waste infrastructure and contaminated sites.
  • Develop stabilised biowaste standards.
  • Encourage green procurement and undertake marketing of organic municipal waste products.

The paper’s author, Dr. John Curtis, EPA Environmental Economist said:

“In reviewing the operation of the market, we concluded that a greater focus needs to be placed on what happens to the waste and where it goes rather than on the technologies used.  It is very important that the waste is managed in a safe and environmentally sound way but it is also important that there are sustainable outlets for the treated wastes, that the sector is commercially viable, and also that the general public is getting value for money in the services provided”.

He continued:

“Organic municipal waste is a potentially re-usable resource but we are not making best use of it putting it in landfill.  When this waste is treated outside of landfill there is not at present a clear vision of where the treated waste should ultimately go.  We need to identify the scale and range of potential outlets for the treated organic waste, which in turn should influence the type of treatment infrastructure that is required.”

Download the discussion paper.