I propose to take Questions Nos. 742, 780 and 781 together.
The Programme for Government commits to the development of a coherent national waste policy, adhering to the waste hierarchy, which will aim to minimise waste disposal in landfill and maximise recovery. In addition, Ireland must comply with strict limits under the Landfill Directive for the volumes of material which are landfilled.
I published A Resource Opportunity - Waste Management Policy in Ireland in July 2012 which clearly signalled my intent ion to raise the landfill levy in July 2013 in order to provide certainty, in the form of both policy and legislation, so that the necessary actions and investments are progressed to achieve the policy’s objectives.
The landfill levy is chargeable on waste presented for disposal at landfill facilities. The National Waste Report for 2011 noted that the increasing landfill levy and the economic down-turn contributed in significant ways to Ireland’s achievement of the 2010 EU Landfill Directive diversion target for biodegradable waste through significant decreases in municipal waste generation and quantity of residual waste consigned to landfill.
Preliminary 2012 data indicate that the quantity of biodegradable municipal waste disposed at landfill in 2011 was 771,551 tonnes. This is 161,551 tonnes in excess of the July 2013 EU Landfill Directive limit and 344,551 tonnes in excess of the 2016 limit. This further underlines the importance of effective economic instruments, such as the landfill levy, which are key to encouraging more sustainable management of our waste.
Accordingly, I recently, in exercise of the powers conferred on me by sections 7, 18(3) and 73 of the Waste Management Act 1996 (No. 10 of 1996), increased the landfill levy by €10 to €75 per tonne with effect from 1 July 2013 for each tonne of waste disposed of at authorised and unauthorised landfill facilities. This increase sends a further strong price signal to the producers, collectors and managers of waste, to deter against unsustainable behaviour and to encourage a shift away from landfill to waste management practices which are more closely aligned with the higher tiers of the waste hierarchy.
The estimated 2013 total revenue to be received into the Environment Fund from the landfill levy is €50.8 million. The proceeds of the Environment Fund, which was established under the Waste Management (Amendment) Act 2001, can only be used for activities that are of benefit to the environment. Section 74(9) of the Waste Management Act 1996 (as amended), specifies the purposes for which payments may be made from the Environment Fund. These include assistance in a range of areas such as:
- schemes to prevent-reduce waste;
- waste recovery activities;
- research and development into waste management;
- production, distribution or sale of products deemed to be less harmful to the environment than other similar products;
- development of producer initiatives to prevent-reduce waste arising from their activities;
- implementation of waste management plans;
- enforcement of the provisions of any enactment relating to waste management, prevention of litter or protection of the environment;
- partnership projects, that involve local authorities, to improve the quality of the environment for particular local communities;
- promotion of awareness of the need to protect the environment, including national and regional campaigns;
- promotion-support of education and training to assist achievement of campaign objectives;
- resources (human or material) to enable education and training to be carried out;
- initiatives undertaken by community groups and others for protection of the environment;
- initiatives undertaken by international organisations and others for protection of the environment and/or sustainable development;
- such other purposes for protection of the environment as may be prescribed by the Minister in regulations.
The audited Environment Fund Accounts are available for download at http://www.environ.ie/en/Publications/Environment/Waste/WasteManagement.