Government move away from incineration is welcome
Friends of the Earth has welcomed the Minister of the Environment's statement that "incineration is no longer the cornerstone of Irish waste management policy". The environmental pressure group has long championed Mechanical Biological Treatment (MBT) which the Minister now says will become a key element of waste management. Friends of the Earth Director Oisin Coghlan described the decision to prevent local authorities guaranteeing a certain level of waste to incinerator operators as "a step in the right direction". The Minister's proposal to extend the landfill tax to cover incinerators as well should now be progressed to ensure a level-playing field when it comes to disposing of residual waste.
Oisin Coghlan, Friends of the Earth Director, commented:
"Today's announcement by Minister Gormley is a step in the right direction. The promotion of mechanical biological treatment is welcome. If I were a company planing to build an incinerator in Ireland I would now think again. With an end to contracts that guarantee me enough waste to make a profit and with the prospect of a tax on any waste I take in, Ireland is no longer the soft touch it seemed 10 years ago."
The real challenge now is to reduce the amount of waste arising in Ireland, which is one of the highest per person in the world. Moreover, Ireland should support the establishment of a mandatory EU target to recycle 50% of municipal waste. Government policies must miminimize the amount of waste that even requires MBT. And after MBT much of the residual waste can be safely landfilled. While refused-derived fuel (RDF) could usefully replace peat in power stations and coal in cement kilns, reducing carbon emissions, the Government should consider taxing RDF to make sure all the incentive is to reduce waste not produce it.
"It is good to see the Government doing detailed analysis of Ireland's waste options in a way that takes into account the climate impact of how we use resources. I hope the analysis recently prepared by the Department will be published to ensure that all Oireachtas members, and the public, can participate fully in the discussion of how we maximise the efficiency of our resource-use," Mr Coghlan continued
Friends of the Earth opposes mass-burn incineration on the basis that it undermines recycling efforts and is not a climate-friendly or resource efficient way to treat residual waste.
"The Government has announced the incineration is no longer the cornerstone of waste policy. That is progress. Campaigning to ensure incineration does not become the capstone will no doubt continue", Mr Coghlan concluded.