Written Answers. - Waste Management.

John McGuinness

Question:

405 Mr. McGuinness asked the Minister for the Environment and Local Government if he will make funds immediately available to all local authorities in order to maximise recycling and minimisation of waste can be introduced in the short-term; if he will consider involving a number of counties in various pilot projects to determine if zero waste can be achieved or establish the best possible practice here to achieve maximum waste reduction; the number of counties that have been established bring centres and civic amenities; if any county handles waste in an ecologically friendly manner; if his Department has studied any other country of similar size and population that disposes of its waste other than by incineration; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7455/01]

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 over a 15 year period. These include 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 local and 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.

It is implicit in these proposed plans that a considerable improvement is required in the way waste is dealt with in Ireland, to deliver a much higher recycling performance, recover energy from waste which cannot be recycled, and use landfill as a last resort for residual wastes which cannot otherwise be recovered. In effect, the plans are designed to secure an integrated approach to the management of waste.

The National Development Plan 2000-2006 anticipates capital investment of at least £650 million in the development of waste management infrastructure. Of this, some £100 million in Exchequer-EU funding is being provided to support the development of requisite waste recycling and recovery infrastructure over the life of the plan.

I intend shortly to publish a policy statement on waste prevention and recovery. This will address in detail the factors and practical considerations which are relevant to the achievement of policy objectives and targets in this area, and will outline the scope of measures which will be undertaken in support of a better national recycling performance. These measures will encompass proposals in relation to waste prevention and minimisation, market development for recyclables, and the provision of further reprocessing capacity for recyclable materials.

The position in regard to established bring facilities and civic amenity sites is set out in the national waste database report for 1998 which was published by the Environmental Protection Agency last year, and which is available in the Oireachtas Library. I understand that, overall, the national network of bring facilities has increased to over 1,000 sites, while 40 civic amenity sites are now in operation nationwide.

My Department has reviewed waste management practice in a number of countries. Within the European Union, I understand that only Ireland and Greece do not utilise energy recovery which is classified as a recovery rather than a disposal activity as an element of their integrated waste management infrastructure.