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EU and National Policy                                               
Prevent, Minimise, Reuse, Recycle 

The Waste Management Hierarchy

This principle is at the heart of EU, National, and County policy. It sets out a hierarchy of options for dealing with waste, with prevention as the highest priority and disposal (thermal treatment and landfill) as a last resort.

While National Policy does envisage disposal as part of the solution to our waste problem, it advocates the Waste Management Hierarchy and recommends disposal only for "waste which cannot be prevented or recovered."

National Plan

The "cornerstone" of our National Hazardous Waste Management Plan is WASTE PREVENTION. This is its primary objective. Its secondary objective is to manage any hazardous waste "which cannot be prevented".

It also urges that thermal treatment facilities "must not be allowed to interfere with the potential to prevent or minimise the generation of hazardous waste".

National targets

The target in the National Plan is to reduce the quantity of hazardous waste for disposal to1996 levels (less that ½ that currently generated).


It is clear that our national policies and plans prioritize prevention and minimisation and propose a significant reduction in the amount of hazardous waste that ends up incinerated or landfilled.

In the absence of any real progress at the higher levels of the waste hierarchy, and in light of the above targets, the proposed facility:

  • Is (at best) premature.
  • Would act as a disincentive to achieving the more urgent targets for prevention, minimisation, reuse, and recycling.
  • Has capacity well in excess of that envisaged in the National Plan (66%-79% overcapacity)

Significant quotes

"industrial areas … are considered to be generally suitable for waste management activities … but not including landfill or contract incineration"
Cork County Development Plan 2003

It is necessary to ensure that "development of waste to energy incineration capacity does not militate against long term investment in materials recycling."
Changing our Ways 1998 (national policy document)

"the Council will endeavour to reduce the quantity of waste for final disposal … in the first instance by making every effort to prevent and minimise waste arisings and secondly by recovering as much waste as possible."
County Cork Waste Management Plan

"Thermal treatment facilities … must only be used where it can be shown that all options for prevention, minimisation, re-use and recycling have been fully utilised."
PD Manifesto 2002

"I would like to set the record straight: the Commission does not promote incineration. We do not consider that this technique is favourable to the environment …. Those countries that are in the process of drafting their planning should not have it based upon incineration. A quality incinerator is a costly investment that has to be fed over 25 to 30 years".
Ludwig Kramer, EU Director of Waste Management, 1999


Cork Harbour Alliance for a Safe Environment
Bishop's Road, Cobh, Co. Cork
Tel - 021 481 5564      Email -
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