Waste bill published

Irish legislators have a habit of amending bills but not consolidate. The Environment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2011 has been published. It’s a tough read but would allow the Minister for the Environment to put punitive levies on landfill and incineration. Strikingly, the bill was published even though the results of the consultation on the bill are still not public (UPDATE: See first comment).

I’ve posted on this before, and my opinion has not changed.

UPDATE: Submissions to the consultations are public at last. I’ve browsed through them. There is a range of opinions, as one would expect. I was reminded, however, that waste policy is so much broader than imposing levies on landfill and incineration. As it stands, the legacy of the current government may be:

  1. the right to impose punitive levies on incineration — a right that the next Minister may choose not to exercise;
  2. the right to impose punitive levies on landfill — whereas a system of tradable permits would be more appropriate given that the EU put a cap on the amount; and
  3. the need to reform waste policy.

5 thoughts on “Waste bill published”

  1. @ Richard

    I read some of the submissions on the Draft Statement of Waste Policy, including the ESRI’s and I made a few interesting observations. The EPA confirmed my earlier comment on the increases in recycling rates over the past 10 years and also referred to the possibility of Ireland striving for a 70% recycling rate for household waste. Before you say it, I accept that this is an aspiration, but contrast this with the ISus model assumption that MSW recycling rates in Ireland will remain at (or drop to) 34.4% for the next 15 years.

    Is the EPA not your partner in the ISus project? Did you ask their view on projected recycling rates since your previous dismissal of my criticism in this regard? Or did the Agency collude with you in distorting the figures to justify the need for a 600,000 t/a incinerator? I don’t believe that they would be so impartial, so it is more likely that they are unaware of the error.

    Secondly, I noted the ESRI comment that “There is extensive evidence to support the recommendation that competition for the market in household waste collection will lead to lower costs than the current competition in the market arrangements”.

    The Competition Authority doesn’t agree with you. They stated in their submission “The Competition Authority is generally in favour of retaining side-by-side competition, but only where it appears to be working well for the consumer.” They advocate competition for the market in certain circumstances such as “sparsely populated rural areas” or “if there is only one private operator and the prices are high.” In fact, the Agency is quite complementary of private sector competition in Dun Laoghaire Rathdown introduced by Panda and Greenstar.

    I also noticed that the ESRI’s submission had a very narrow focus. Was your submission commissioned by Dublin City Council or written in support of the Poolbeg project? There was no mention of this in your document, but if it was a general ESRI submission I would expect you to address more than just the issues that relate to the Poolbeg project. Do you have no interest in recycling targets, waste prevention, producer responsibility, levels of service, the Environment Fund, economic development, etc.? Are these issues not of economic and/or social interest?

  2. @Richard
    I have followed the thread from the last item on Poolbeg. I note Richard that you continue to dodge Conor’s comments on the ESRI numbers. Put it simply, have the ESRI taken the view that recycling and reuse rates for the next 20 odd years will remain at approx 35%? if so how can your organisation retain credibility for trying to guide thinking in this area in this country?

    It’s al about balance in waste management and despite your protestations I perceive that Minister Gormley despite getting some items incorrect is a lot closer to getting waste policy right then any of his predecessors.

    My suggestion would be to utilise waste as a resource that can serve many uses AD, fuel for cement kilns, in vessel composting, raw material source and incineration at the correct size with landfill at the bottom of our options for residual disposal.

  3. The EPA’s National Waste Report was released yesterday, showing improved recycling rates and that..

    Ireland is well advanced in achieving most of the EU waste recovery and recycling targets, according to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) National Waste Report 2009, released today

    http://www.epa.ie/news/pr/2011/name,30615,en.html

  4. @Ossian
    You may also have noticed that our national recovery rate is now 39%, up from 37.5%. Note my earlier criticisms of the ESRI’s model in relation to a static 34.4% recycling/recovery rate for the next 15 years. Also note that waste growth in Dublin was -19.9% for the year. The ESRI predicted -4.68%. This all makes a big difference for Poolbeg.

  5. an epilogue…

    The new Minister for Environment, Phil Hogan, set the incineration levy at zero, thus subsidising incineration by not charging for emissions. Despite this inducement, the project promoter failed in three rounds of funding in 2010, 2011 and 2012 to raise capital to construct the facility. The city councils, meanwhile, lost control of domestic waste collection to private operators and failed to persuade the government to enact legislation forcing waste collection companies to direct waste disposal to the councils’ preferred facility.

    Dublin city council now had no domestic waste for disposal and their private joint venture partner has no money to build an unneeded facility.

    The total public expenditure on the planning of the unbuilt incinerator at this stage is more than €90m including €3m for PR and paying ESRI for reports and paying journalists to carry out fact finding missions to Denmark. The comptroller and auditor general found the council project management was weak and not adequate with a lack of financial records or even minutes of meetings. The council front-man for the incinerator project, City Manager John Tierney, resigned this year to take up the position of head of the new Irish Water.

    Dublin City Council has now voted to request that central government take over the running of the project.

    The terms of the joint-venture incinerator contract and the circumstances of its tender and award are now the subject of an enquiry at the European Commission.

    Meanwhile, the recovery rate for Irish waste has continued to improve beyond the 37.5% permanent peak predicted by ESRI.

    2010 recovery rate: 42%
    2011 recovery rate: 47%

    source: EPA National Waste Reports 2010 and 2011

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