I introduced the European Union (Household Food Waste and Bio-waste) Regulations 2013 in April 2013. These Regulations, which build on the commercial food waste regulations introduced in 2009, are designed to promote the segregation and recovery of household food waste, in line with the national policy and the Waste Framework Directive objectives of maximising the resource which can be extracted from waste and minimising the disposal of waste. They will increase the amount of food waste that is recovered through the production of energy, compost and digestate, thereby creating opportunities for added jobs and value. The Regulations will also facilitate the achievement of the targets set out in the Landfill Directive (Directive 99/31/EC) for the diversion of biodegradable municipal waste from landfill sites, by directing source-segregated household food waste to composting and to other forms of treatment.
The Regulations impose obligations on both householders and waste collectors. Householders are obliged to segregate their food waste, and make it available for separate collection. Alternatively householders may compost the food waste at home; or bring it themselves to authorised treatment facilities (such as civic amenity sites or anaerobic digestion sites).
In respect of the end-product from the treatment of food waste as it relates to the purpose of energy production, policy measures and strategy in relation to the production of biogas for bio-fuel are matters for my colleague, the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources. However, I understand that academic and industry research suggest there is a potentially significant role for biogas and biomethane in meeting our renewable energy requirements, particularly in the challenging heat and transport sectors and biogas can be utilised to generate electricity, heat or as a transport fuel.
There are already a number of supports in place for the use of biogas. Electricity production using anaerobic digestion of biodegradable feedstock, including food waste, is supported under the REFIT 3 scheme, with 50MW of the 310MW dedicated to this technology. REFIT 3 in its support for combined heat and power also supports the generation of renewable heat from such feedstock. In the transport sector, biogas may also be used to meet the obligations set under the Biofuels Obligation Scheme.
Given the relatively early stage of technology development and cost, detailed economic analysis is required before any additional supports for biogas and biomethane appropriate to Ireland can be considered. This analysis will be carried forward in the context of implementing the forthcoming Bioenergy Strategy which is currently being finalised by the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources.