Landfilling waste

The EPA has released a new report on landfill, showing that environmental and nuisance management is much, much better than it used to be. It also contains an action plan to further improve things.

In an interview with the Irish Times, Dara Lynott adds that Ireland is likely to meet its landfill target for 2010 (I disagree) but not after that (I agree) as too little effort is made to provide alternatives to landfill.

10 replies on “Landfilling waste”

@Richard Tol

What is the state of current cross-border co-operation in respect of waste disposal? Is there a co-ordinated All-Ireland waste disposal strategy anywhere on the horizon? If not, there should be. As with so many things, a co-ordinated All-Ireland strategy is the only one that makes sense.

Up to now, waste disposal south of the border has been handled by the expedient of hundreds of lorries driving across the border every week and dumping the waste in the first empty field they see, presumably in revenge for northern teams continually beating them in All-Ireland finals. This is no longer a viable option. The people up north will tolerate it no longer.

However, people north of the border have historically been far more in favour of technological advance than people south of the border. And, there are far fewer environmental nutters north of the border. The only Greens up north are of the Martin McGuinness variety. If people south of the border are so backward that they think building a modern incinerator will cause them to get cancer, become impotent or grow two heads, which John Gormley and many others down south clearly believe, they should build the incinerator north of the border as part of a co-ordinated All-Ireland waste disposal strategy.

The headline in today’s IT article is Incineration vital if landfill targets to be met, says agency

This headline is misleading because the report, while most useful, provides no basis for the comments made by Dara Lynott of the EPA supporting incineration.

He is quoted as saying:
“We feel there is not enough infrastructure to meet those targets; more will be required and incineration is definitely part of that mix,” he said.

“We are going to have to build more composting facilities, bio-mechanical treatment facilities and incinerators; a whole range of infrastructure.”

However the report itself makes no recommendation for incineration.

His comments are personal remarks – they are not official EPA policy.


I think that there isn’t a huge difference between North and South with regards incinerators.
Communities against Lough Neagh Incinerator –

“fewer environmental nutters north of the border”. Maybe they got better reasons to be nutters up there.

The EPA are monitoring the landfill targets on a monthly basis so I would think they have a good idea with regard compliance. If we are non-compliant in 2010 it will be by a very small amount and not warrant fines. For 2011 and 2012 we are fine

The EPA are absolutely right that more infrasturcture, including incineration, will be required to meet the 2013 targets.

Conor and I have highlighed the huge amount of infrastructure being developed at present which will be in place to meet the 2013 targets, again including incineration.

@JtO, I’m not sure we want to emulate Northern Ireland with regard the spending of vast amounts of money by public bodies. I know Northern Ireland is subsidised by the British tax payer but down here we have to pay for our own mistakes. I’d love to see a united Ireland but you are an unaffordable burden right now.

I haven’t heard anyone oppose the Poolbeg incinerator on this blog on environmental/public health grounds in quite a while. I am against the contract, not the incinerator.

You say in you intro that Dara Lynott said that the landfill targets would be met for 2010, ”but not after that (I agree) as too little effort is made to provide alternatives to landfill”

Where does he say too little effort is being made?

However, it will become increasingly difficult to meet the targets for the following years without better infrastructure, he said.

Of course, and better infrastructure is being developed.

“We are going to have to build more composting facilities, bio-mechanical treatment facilities and incinerators; a whole range of infrastructure.”


If he is aware of all the waste licence applications, and reviews for expansion, being submitted to the EPA he would know of the huge amout of activity taking place.
He has not expressed the view, or cited evidence to suggest, that we will not meet present or future landfill targets.

I took this ”thread”(if that the right word) as a continuation of the Poolbeg incinerator debate as this is an economics blog. But although the report was written by the EPA, it is a vindication of their ability to regulate efficiently and shows the excellent impact they have had on the waste sector from a technical point of views since its formation.

Incineration and landfill both have their places.

Resource recovery offers the most benefit to wider society. Why isn’t it one of the options under discussion?

I’ve some excellent presentations about the results achieved in Nova Scotia and NZ where this is the primary strategy. Results are impressive and sustained over time.

E.g. I’ve got some chairs I don’t want. I could burn them for a very short-term gain in heat. Isn’t it better if they can be sorted, repaired and then reused as chairs?
* Generates jobs (sorting, repairing & selling)
* Generates income (selling the repaired goods)
* Cuts down on waste going into both landfill and incineration
* Saves a useful resource
* Keeps resources closer to home, may reduce imports

Many items of furniture, electrical appliances, and other things that are commonly landfilled or incinerated (in other countries) could be made re-usable at the local level.

This is more energy-efficient than
* burning it and losing most of the “energy” in transmission lines and then fabricating a new chair
* mining landfills 10 yrs from now for useful things we’ve buried
* “recycling” the plastic and metal parts and shipping them overseas somewhere for the component parts to be processed for potential re-use as raw materials (but not as a chair)

As a society we seem to prefer the drama of pro- or anti-incinerator pie fights.

I wonder why no one is looking more closely at resource recovery parks? Not enough money to be made by private operators?
Too much benefit for the public (rather than for entrepreneurs enchanted with large-scale PPPs)?

Chairs are very cheap to manufacture (ala IKEA) and people are wasteful, they want new chairs. If they can mend the chair themselves they might, but it wouldn’t pay for the drop off, mending labour, and collection to get someone at your resource recovery park to mend it.
If there was an economic demand for this then it would be done, clearly there is not.
Furniture and electrical appliances are not commonly landfilled. They are seperated and recycled.

We cannot afford to subsidise any more loss making enterprises. I wish you luck If you would like to set up a resource recovery park yourself.

fyi – there is an excellent site for recycling furniture and other objects and it is funded (subsidised) by various local authoritiesbut it appears that it is known to relatively few people

I guess the rest just burn their unwanted furniture or go to IKEA

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