22 Nov

EU Waste Directive – Ambition needed

OPEN LETTER TO MINISTER NAUGHTON.

To the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment

Re: Final steps for more ambitious EU waste legislation – your help is needed

Dear Minister Naughton,

The 2018 Climate Change Performance Index highlights Ireland as being the worst performing country in Europe for action on climate change. (https://www.climate-change-performance-index.org/). The Index is produced annually on the basis of joint analysis by two leading European think-tanks. It places Ireland 49th out of 56 countries, a drop of 28 places from last year.

The expert report lays bare the continuing and disturbing contradiction between the Irish Government’s rhetoric on climate change and the stark reality of very poor progress made here. However, we can redeem ourselves and play catch up. Here is one way to do so if we are serious about our deteriorating Environmental conditions.

At the moment final stage of the negotiations within the European Council’s Working Party on the Environment regarding amendments to the EU Waste Directive is fast approaching.

We in the Zero Waste movement are calling on all environmentally conscious politicians to urgently support ambitious measures in three key areas:

  1. more ambitious recycling targets;
  2. urgent action on tackling marine litter; and
  3. immediate action to curb food waste.

We actively support the ambitions of better resource and waste management in Ireland and the EU and the move towards a truly Circular Economy. However, we are concerned about the obstructing position of the Council, undermining the negotiations of the Waste Directives as well as job creation and environmental progress in the EU.

As the fifth trilogue negotiation approaches, we call on you and the government to support the following three key measures in the Council’s mandate for the Trilogue of 27th November 2017:

Higher targets for preparation for reuse and recycling, and mandatory separate collection:

In order to gain the maximum benefits of resource savings and job creation, it is essential to support a target of 70% of municipal solid waste to be prepared for reuse and recycled by 2030. Countless European countries and municipalities have shown this is possible to achieve.

In addition, a key legislative step to reach this target is to remove loopholes around compulsory separate collection and pricing anomalies such as flat rate fees which we see in Ireland

Tackling marine litter: Include a European Union wide marine litter reduction target of

  • 30% by 2025 and
  • 50% by 2030

for the ten most common types of litter found on beaches (mainly plastics), as well as for fishing gear found at sea, with the list adapted to each of the four marine regions in the EU.

Curbing food wastage: Include a European Union wide food waste reduction target of

  • 30% by 2025 and
  • 50% by 2030, from farm to fork.

In parallel, introduce a review clause calling on the European Commission to propose a binding target by 2020 once baseline data and a clear methodology are available, and support the introduction of a standardized food waste hierarchy.

Please do not hesitate to contact us for further information and discussion. Thanks for giving this your consideration,

Best regards,

Sean Cronin,

Director

Zero Waste Alliance Ireland

18 Oct

Farmers, it’s ‘Bring out your Haz Waste’ time of year again.

Farmer’s can move a little closer to Zero Waste in November thanks to the EPA’s efforts. Farms will be safer places afterwards.

During October and November, farmers across Ireland will have an opportunity to safely dispose of hazardous wastes from their farms at ten collection events organized nationally by the EPA and local authorities.

What kind of Wastes are accepted?

Typical wasted generated normal running of a farm, from engine oils & filters, batteries, to residues of pesticides and out-of-date veterinary medicines.  Removal of these dangerous substances improves farm safety and cuts pollution risks associated with accidental spillages.

The quest for Zero Waste kicks off in Bandon, Co Cork today, 18th October and expect to see Farmers bringing along surplus agri-chemicals, medicines and other hard-to-manage wastes. Their actions help to maintain a safer rural environment and Ireland’s green image.

How much does it cost?

Some waste is free of charge to dispose of such as electrical equipment, batteries, waste motor oils and hydraulic oils, other types range in price from €2-4 per kilogram (such as empty plastic and metal containers). Collected waste is then forwarded to registered handlers and recyclers for treatment or safe disposal.

Farmers should segregate and package their wastes to avoid leaks during transport. They should load their wastes so that they can be off-loaded at the 4 main operational areas at each centre. These are Oils, WEEE & Batteries, Containers and Haz Waste.

Watch a video about it.

Unique co-operation.

The clean-up campaign started four years ago and is unique in commanding a high level of cross-departmental support. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) works with a cross-government team that includes Teagasc; the Department of Agriculture, Food & Marine; the Department of Communications, Climate Action & Environment and local authorities. There is a strong demand from farmers for the service and the scheme shows what can be achieved with the commitment of a wide range of engaged partners focused on one aim.

ZWAI supports this scheme and asks if it could be extended to all rural dwellers, not just Farmers, and more often than once a year, because our environment and safety are everyone’s concern.

We encourage all farmers to bring their farm hazardous wastes to one of the ten locations listed below, where it will be collected and processed in a safe and environmentally sound manner. These collection days provide an opportunity for farmers to dispose of materials that may be harmful to humans and animals, and also to ensure compliance with DAFM Cross Compliance and Bord Bia Inspections. In addition, the scheme assists farmers in complying with legislation & quality assurance schemes, and also supports the ambitions of strategies such as the National Hazardous Waste Management Plan and Food Wise 2025.

The details.

Find out more about the 2017 Farm Hazardous Waste collections on the EPA website.

Collection centres will open from 9:30 am to 3:30 pm at each venue. The location and dates for this year’s farm hazardous waste collections are as follows:

Dates Location
18th October Bandon Recycling Centre, Co. Cork
25th October Nenagh Mart, Co Tipperary
27th October Enniscorthy Mart, Co Wexford
4th November Listowel Mart, Co. Kerry
8th November Kilkenny Mart, Co Kilkenny
14th November Cahir Mart, Co. Tipperary
17th November Mayo-Sligo Co-operative, Ballina, Co Mayo
21st November Tullamore Mart, Co. Offaly
24th November Athenry Mart, Co. Galway
28th November Kells Recycling Centre, Co Meath

 

16 Jun

Waste Reduction Bill 2017 – needs all our support

We are delighted to see the Green Party launch their Waste Reduction Bill 2017.  The Bill calls for much needed practical steps to combat plastic pollution.  A deposit refund scheme is outlined for glass and plastic bottles and a complete ban sought on single use non-recyclable plastics, such as disposable cups.

We are aware more than most in Zero Waste Ireland that the issue of plastic pollution is a massive global challenge and a blight on our own country.  According to the Green Party, every year, over 110 million tonnes of plastic is produced. Of this, up to 43% ends up in landfill.

The amount of plastic waste created in Ireland is actually unknown, as the EPA is only obliged to report on plastic packaging waste and microplastic waste created by a range of industries is currently not measured or even regulated. Microplastics are so small, less than 5mm in diameter, they escape the filters of most wastewater treatment plants.

But, with an estimated 32 per cent of plastic packaging escaping collection systems entirely, the high levels of wastage and litter from single-use plastic packaging has become a campaigning issue around the world.

So what’s the alternative?

Glass and aluminium can be recycled indefinitely without any impact to quality. The same is not the case for plastic. When a plastic bottle is recycled it is downcycled – it is not made into another plastic bottle. Instead, plastic is turned into a lesser strength plastic and turned into items such as carpets, bags, pens etc. These items then eventually end up in a landfill so a plastic bottle of coke will eventually go the landfill after a temporary spell of being a bag but a can or glass bottle can keep becoming a can or bottle forever.

 Not all plastic bottles are put in the recycling bin and may end up in a landfill or worse. Even if it is sent for recycling there are reports that some recycling plants can’t handle the volume so end up dumping the material or sending to incinerators instead

Zero-waste home movement

So, what can we do to combat our high usage of plastics – some of which isn’t recyclable? One action could be to ban the use of non-recyclable bottles in your own life, like the founder of the zero-waste home movement, Bea Johnson. She refuses anything made from plastic and avoids its use at home completely. Here, in Ireland, we proudly initiated the first plastic bag tax in the world in 2002 and many countries now also ban or charge for single-use carrier bags, resulting in an over 90 per cent drop in their usage.

“90 per cent of microplastics channelled through the waste water treatment system is ending up in the sewage sludge and 10 per cent is still going out in our treated water, which then goes back into our rivers and our lakes,

A very worrying trend that ZWAI are concerned about is the rate of increase in Plastic pollution. (see below for more info) . With over 8 million tonnes of plastic leaking into oceans each year, at the current rate, we are on route to having more plastic in the ocean than fish by 2050. So, in this regard, the purpose of the proposed Green’s bill is quite simple – to reduce the amount of plastic consumed in Ireland every year, and encourage recycling.

For ZWAI,  this Green Party bill is overdue and needs to be enacted urgently to stem the plastic tide.  We are confident that sanity will prevail and that all parties in the Dáil will support the Bill.

Coastwatch survey.

Much of the plastic ends up in the environment. In a recent report, Coastwatch Ireland found that 80 per cent of surveyed coastal sites contained litter, with plastic bottles being the major type of litter.  A recent survey by Coastwatch Ireland also showed 89% of people would support a deposit refund scheme.

Evidence indicates that the best way to tackle plastic pollution is to stop it entering the environment in the first place. Deposit refund schemes are a tried and tested approach that works well in a number of other countries.

ZWAI has advocated for a beverage container tax. This would be in the form of a  beverage container deposit-refund scheme,  operating nationally.  It must be targeted at encouraging glass bottle re-use and elimination of plastic containers where possible.

Global efforts.

The United Nations Environment #CleanSeas campaign is urging governments to pass plastic-reduction policies while also targeting industry to minimise plastic packaging and redesign products. Our proposed bill will nicely dovetail into this effort.

But the groundbreaking New Plastics Economy report from the Ellen McArthur Foundation is perhaps the best source of hope. Published in 2016, it is a comprehensive analysis of what the industry must do to transform the production and consumption of plastic.

It starkly points out that if the current strong growth of plastics usage continues, the plastics sector will account for 20 percent of the total oil consumption and 15 percent of the global annual carbon budget by 2050.

The report calls for a global protocol on plastics to reduce the use of harmful and non-recyclable plastics, to standardise labelling and improve the collection, sorting and reprocessing systems.

Circular economy model

In line with the circular economy model (where materials are put back into use at their highest functional level), the ZWAI and  Ellen McArthur Foundation are part of the chorus of voices that wants plastics to be reused, recycled and redesigned in an economically and environmentally sound way.

Let’s get behind this proposed Bill and make our feelings known to Oireachtas members.

Footnote :

How bad is the plastic problem globally?

Published in the journal Science in February 2015, a study conducted by a scientific working group at UC Santa Barbara’s National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS), quantified the amount of plastic waste going from land to ocean. The results: every year, 8 million metric

The results are shocking : every year, 8 million metric tons of plastic end up in our oceans. It’s equivalent to five grocery bags filled with plastic for every foot of coastline in the world. In 2025, the annual input is estimated to be about twice greater, or 10 bags full of plastic per foot of coastline. So the cumulative input for 2025 would be nearly 20 times the 8 million metric tonnes estimated – 100 bags of plastic per foot of coastline in the world!

References:

1. http://www3.weforum.org/docs/WEF_The_New_Plastics_Economy.pdf
2. http://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/9/18/1239747/-Think-your-plastic-is-being-recycled-Think-again