Tuesday, 3 February 2004

Questions (22)

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

150 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the extent to which he proposes to deal with the issue of waste management in the future, with a view to maximising recycling and eliminating landfills; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2946/04]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government)

An effective basis for addressing our waste management responsibilities has been put in place through the Changing Our Ways policy statement on waste management, the Preventing and Recycling Waste: Delivering Change policy statement, the waste management plans, largely prepared on a regional basis, adopted by the local authorities, and the comprehensive regulatory framework now in place regarding waste.

The Government's approach is based on the internationally recognised waste management hierarchy of prevention and minimisation, significantly increased levels of recycling, energy recovery and, finally, utilising landfill as the last resort for residual waste that cannot otherwise be recovered. The Government's priorities regarding waste management are now heavily focused on implementation. The main objectives are to ensure full and speedy delivery on the modernisation of waste infrastructure and services identified in local authority waste management plans, intensify waste prevention efforts through an ambitious and well-resourced national waste prevention programme, significantly expand recycling efforts, extend producer responsibility initiatives at industry level, ensure that the volumes of waste going to landfill are significantly reduced, and establish several new structures in support of waste management initiatives generally, and recycling in particular.

Progress towards meeting the targets set out in changing our ways has been reported by the EPA in the most recent national waste database report, which relates to the year 2001. In addition, my Department is carrying out a national overview of waste management plans. That overview will not take precedence over the current generation of waste management plans; rather it is designed to provide a composite national picture of the infrastructure and services which the plans provide for, to outline progress achieved and to address issues which have arisen in the implementation process to date. That exercise is at an advanced stage, and I expect that it will be concluded very shortly.