Written Answers. - Waste Management.

Brian O'Shea

Question:

699 Mr. O'Shea asked the Minister for the Environment and Local Government his views on gasification as an alternative form of thermal treatment for urban waste; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20193/00]

The 1998 policy statement, Changing our Ways, recommended that local authorities identify and assess a range of waste treatment technologies with a view to the development of an integrated waste management infrastructure appropriate to their particular circumstances. To inform the development and implementation of these waste management plans, two EU-funded feasibility studies were carried out in 1998 on thermal treatment-recovery options as one element in an integrated approach towards waste management. These studies examined the technical, environmental and financial advantages and disadvantages of thermal treatment in two distinct rural regions – the north-east and mid-west – and in the greater Dublin region.

The studies considered three thermal treatment options – waste incineration with energy recovery, WTE, gasification and pyrolysis – under a range of criteria. At the time, the consultants concluded,inter alia, that: WTE is a safe, tried and tested technology capable of meeting stringent environmental standards; gasification and pyrolysis are emerging technologies which are continuing to be developed to the scale likely to be appropriate in Irish circumstances; gasification does not have the same track record as WTE, but appears to be close to becoming proven as a treatment method for municipal wastes; gasification offers environmental advantages over WTE, including lower emissions; pyrolysis may have future potential in certain applications but is not currently suitable as a bulk treatment method for municipal wastes. I am not aware of any more recent facts that would fundamentally challenge these conclusions.

Brian O'Shea

Question:

700 Mr. O'Shea asked the Minister for the Environment and Local Government the proposals he has to actively promote the segregation of the various types of household refuse at source to facilitate recycling and composting; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20194/00]

Brian O'Shea

Question:

705 Mr. O'Shea asked the Minister for the Environment and Local Government the proposals he has to promote communal composting sites on a nationwide basis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20410/00]

As outlined in the 1998 policy statement, Changing our Ways, overall Government policy on waste management is committed to a dramatic reduction in reliance on landfill, in favour of an integrated waste management approach which will deliver ambitious recovery and recycling targets. These include a diversion of 50% of overall household waste away from landfill; a minimum 65% reduction in biodegradable waste consigned to landfill; the development of composting and other feasible biological treatment facilities capable of treating up to 300,000 tonnes of biodegradable waste per annum, and recycling of 35% of municipal waste.
Having regard to these targets, current and proposed regional waste management plans incorporate proposals for household segregation and separate collection of organic waste and dry recyclables in urban areas; an extended network of bring facilities in rural areas, typically with a target density of one facility per 500 population; an increased network of civic amenity sites and waste transfer stations; a range of centralised composting and other biological treatment facilities, and support for home composting of food and garden waste, especially in rural areas.
To support the delivery of improved waste services and infrastructure under these regional plans, some £650 million is earmarked for capital investment in the development of waste management infrastructure under the national development plan, 2000-06. Of this, some £100 million in Exchequer-EU funding will be provided to support the development of requisite waste recovery infrastructure, including biological treatment facilities, over the life of the plan.
A segregated household collection scheme for recyclables has already begun in the Dublin region and is progressively being extended with a view, ultimately, to providing segregated collection services for organic waste and dry recyclables in respect of 80% of households in the region. I anticipate that local authorities in other regions will rapidly move to provide, or require the provision of, equivalent segregated collection and recovery services within their functional areas, and I understand Repak Limited, which was established to promote, co-ordinate and finance the collection and recovery of packaging waste, is prepared to make funding available to assist local authorities in the initiation and development of such services.