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Alternatives to Incineration are Available

Report: Waste Policy, Planning and Regulation in Ireland - Final Report for Greenstar
Prepared by: Dr Dominic Hogg, Dr Adrian Gibbs and Claire Stonier (Eumonia)
Additional Research by Sean Finlay and Mairead Hogan (TOBIN)

(1) Irish Examiner (07-04-07) - Report questions reliance on use of incinerators

(2) Irish Times (18-04-07) - Alternatives to Incineration are available

(3) Summary of Report     (4) Full Report

Irish Examiner - 07-04-07
Report questions reliance on use of incinerators

Various State authorities failed to consider alternative waste treatment options to the controversial incineration method. And this could impede the Government’s plans to comply with its EU obligations to significantly reduce the amount of waste going to landfill by 2010, the report claims.

The report by British environmental consultants, Eunomia — which was commissioned by Ireland’s largest waste management company, Greenstar — comes just days after some doubt was raised about plans by Indaver Ireland to build two incinerators at Ringaskiddy, Co Cork, and Carranstown, Co Meath. It points out that the use of Mechanical Biological Treatment (MBT) has not been given serious consideration to date as a viablealternative by the authorities, even though it was a cheaper and more easilydeliverable form of waste management. “National policy appears to be completely wedded to the idea that Ireland must have incineration,” stated the report.

However, Indaver Ireland recently expressed concern about the ability of incinerators to compete against landfill sites unless the Government raises the existing landfill levy by €5 per tonne.

The report’s author, Dominic Hogg, observed that the Government seemed to have “a blind spot” on MBT — a combination of mechanical sorting and biological treatments which enables the recovery of resources contained in waste such as metals, plastics and glass for subsequent recycling.

“The length of time needed to bring incineration plants on line, coupled with local opposition, suggests Ireland needs a ‘Plan B.’ There are no incinerators on the ground, even though they’ve been talking about them for a decade,” he said.

Dr Hogg claimed it was misleading to paint the picture as a stark choice between landfill and incineration, especially as the benefits of thermal waste treatment were not as “clear cut” as widely believed.

Dr Hogg also raised concerns about the accuracy of waste projection data which were used in the drafting of regional waste management plans and associated targets.

Launching the report in Dublin yesterday, Dr Hogg said he believed the Government had focused on incineration as a solution because there was relatively little information about MBT available in the late 1990s when most national and regional waste management policies were drafted.

Greenstar chief executive, Steve Cowan, said the aim in commissioning the report was to stimulate debate about alternative ways in which Ireland could achieve its waste policy targets.

MBT: alternative option?
Mechanical biological treatment (MBT) is a category of waste treatment technologies that enables recovery of the resources contained in waste. The ‘mechanical’ element is usually an automated mechanical sorting stage. This either removes recyclable elements from mixed waste (such as metals, plastics and glass) or processes them. The ‘biological’ element refers to either: anaerobic digestion or composting. 

© Irish Examiner


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