28 May

Ten steps to bring Europe towards a circular solution

ZeroDownSlopeGrey100x80Zero Waste Alliance Ireland warmly joins with a long list of leading non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in calling for the European Union (EU) to implement ten steps that will help Europe work towards a circular economy.

icon-rewards-turnkeyA joint statement called ‘Bring waste full circle: How to implement the circular economy’ , was recently released. It was co- signed by the European Environmental Bureau, Seats at Risk, Zero Waste Europe, Rreuse, Greenpeace, Ecos, the Surfrider Foundation Europe and Friends of the Earth Europe.

In the the statement we’re

  • calling for 70% recycling target for municipal waste across Europe
  • seeking binding waste prevention targets ,that are competently policed, for food waste.  We seek a ban on landfilling and incineration by 2020 for all recyclable and compostable waste, and
  • promoting producer responsibility and resource taxation schemes.

We’re doing so in tandem with the ongoing revision of the Landfill, Packaging Waste and Waste Framework Directives .
The timely review of waste policy  now provides us with a great opportunity to set Europe on a clear path towards resource efficiency.

It is simply no longer tenable to burn and bury our (wasted) materials, many of which need to be imported and transported great distances for our consumption.

Our approach must be to attack the root cause of waste  – to not create it in the first place.  So a big emphasis is needed in the review of waste policy to target the areas where waste arises. We must put serious efforts into stringent prevention schemes, encourage reuse  and set some challenging recycling targets that show the level of our ambition.


Along with our partner NGOs throughout the EU are calling for the following ten steps to be implemented as a matter of urgency.

  1. GO FOR ZERO. Set a zero residual waste target  by 2025
  2. REDUCE MATERIAL CONSUMPTION. Set binding EU material reduction targets. (These are based on the Total Material Consumption indicator for each product consumed)
  3. SET PREVENTION TARGETS. Introduce binding waste prevention targets for municipal, commercial and industrial waste. (Separate EU &  national target levels)
  4. MEASURE RE-USE LEVELS. Establish reuse targets for municipal solid waste (MSW) and packaging. Set targets for textiles and furniture re-use based on the weight of material per capita put back on the market.
  5. RAISE THE RECYCLING BAR. Increase recycling targets to at least 70% of municipal solid waste (MSW), using a single harmonised methodology for all Member States to report on, based on the recycling output. Set an overall packaging recycling target at 80% and boost plastic packaging recycling to at least 75%
  6. CUT MARINE LITTER. Set a marine litter reduction target of 50% with an explicit definition of litter included in the waste legislation.
  7. SEPARATE WASTE STREAMS AT SOURCE. Introduce separate collection of waste streams by 2020. Segregate biowaste from homes & hospitality sector. Mandate separate collection for recycling materials such as glass, paper, cardboard, metals and textiles
  8. FISCAL CARROTS. Provide economic incentives that implement  the waste hierarchy, such as extended producer responsibility, pay-as-you-throw schemes and the taxation of virgin resources where appropriate
  9. RE-THINK. Eliminate through better design all single-use, non-recyclable products and toxic materials such as microplastics and oxo-fragementable plastics
  10. BURY AND BURN BAN. Ban landfill and incineration by 2020 for all recyclable and compostable waste. Omit financing of incinerators and landfills from structural and cohesion funds.
12 May

Going on a Holiday to Majorca? Bring along your waste.

son-reus-wteIt now looks like Irish people might be able to bring their waste to Majorca when heading there on holiday. If they can’t do so directly, then a project proposed currently will do it for them indirectly, via waste exports from Derry. But don’t stuff rubbish in your rucksack just yet.  Reason may yet prevail.

From Bundoran to Bunyola, waste in haste.

Nestled on the North west coast of  Majorca, in the spurs of the Serra de Tramuntana, just 9 miles from Majorca’s Capital, Palma , lies the picturesque town of Bunyola.  It’s just 2,572 km from Bundoran, but unlike Bundoran its 5,475 inhabitants (double that of Bundoran)  have a serious concern.  They live near a large Incinerator that is operating below full capacity (like many others in Europe). But proposals currently before the Governing Council of Majorca will allow  the import of residual Irish waste for burning.  Problem solved you might think. They get money, we get rid of rubbish cheaply.

Maybe we’ve missed a vital piece of logic in the rationale used. For an island that survives on tourism  and that expounds the concept of clean open spaces, mountains, rural pursuits, crystal clear sea and bright sunshine it seems somewhat idiotic  to invite thousands of tons of residual rubbish along with holidaymakers every year. We certainly wouldent allow this to happen to our Green island. Would we?

Licence to burn in Majorca.

When the Son Reus burner was originally built  in 1992, near Bunyola, it handled 300,000 tons of waste. But guess what? Just like our own Carrinstown Indaver burner, its capacity was increased to 432,000 and then in 2011 to 736,000 tons. But why?  Since this is more waste than Majorca produces (Majorca creates about 540,000 tons of waste annually). Sounds familiar ? Sounds a bit like Poolbeg rationale?

Another similarity relates to the longevity of the licence granted to Tirme , the operator. It has a licence to waste treatment in Mallorca until 2041.

So in order to feed the capacity shortfall of the Incinerator waste must now be imported in increasing quantities for the next 27 years to match any drop in local Majorcan waste generation.

Ironically Bunyola,  has been a trailblazer for recycling waste and its local council is naturally indignant that piles of rubbish (ash) will in effect be dumped at its back door and pollute its air. The cruel outcome of increasing Eco awareness in Majorca , leading to less residual waste , means more rubbish imports will be needed to feed the burner. So there is no commercial reward for the Majorcan population to become greener!

When Irish eyes are smiling….something’s burning.

The reason why Irish waste could be exported to Mallorca is probably because the north west region is faced with a deficiency in waste management infrastructure and the Son Reus Incinerator needs more waste to fully utilise the burning capacity. (they previously tried to import Italian waste, unsuccessfully). So there is a commercial fit for these two needs  to meet.  We don’t need to invest in infrastructure and they fill a revenue gap.

Bunyola – A long way from Clare to here.

But do we know where the Irish waste will be generated — in Derry ?  Donegal ? Belfast ?  Clare? perhaps Dublin? In fact, it could come from any part of the country, transported quietly by truck to the Port of Derry, and loaded on a ship.  Derry Harbour Commissioners might be delighted of course, as the exports will increase tonnage throughput at one of Ireland’s smaller ports !
We all know that the waste industry is driven by the need to reduce costs at every stage, and one of the reasons why waste might be exported from Ireland to Mallorca is undoubtedly because it is cost effective. The landfill levy in the Republic has been steadily increased in Ireland (from €30/tonne to €50/tonne in 2011 to €65/tonne in 2012 and €75/tonne in 2013). This creates an opportunity for Irish waste exporters or brokers if they can find cheaper options.

The Zero Option.

Of course ,if we reduce our own waste in the first instance and use the latest Zero Waste technologies here there would be no waste to export. The local treatment of waste resources would provide new jobs here and help develop our own remanufacturing, re-cycling and re-use industries. This would keep money at home and put more of it (money not waste)  in people’s pockets (which they might spend on a  holiday to , well…Majorca?).

And if there was no waste to burn the Son Reus plant  might have to close down. Oops, that’s bad news for Tirme’s cashflow  – they’re expecting bumber revenues till 2041 remember- but great news for Majorca’s tourists and its hospitality industry and those 5,475 Eco aware Spaniards in Bunyola. Ole!

SangriaOnBeachSangria and soot?

So next time you’re lying on a sunny Santa Ponsa beach , pay attention to the wind direction. You might just get a whiff of your own waste, that’s followed you like a dog turd stuck to your sandals.

Discreetly check for traces of Soot in your Sangria as the turgid smoke wafts out in the night sky from the incinerator smoke stacks in the distance.

Cheers and …..Bon voyage !

06 May

The scandal of Food Waste in Ireland – Eco Eye view

food waste scandal

There is no better way to understand just how much food is being wasted by today’s distribution systems than to watch this short Eco Eye video.  With over 30% of food wasted and even more never reaching our shelves it is time to do something about it in our own lives . In this video, the scandal of Food waste in Ireland is vividly brought to you by Duncan Stewart . He shows how you can act to reduce this waste in your daily life. Every little action you take lightens the Landfill load.