Dáil Éireann - Volume 610 - 15 November, 2005
Written Answers. - Waste Management.
Mr. Deasy Mr. Deasy
631. Mr. Deasy asked the Minister for the  Environment, Heritage and Local Government if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the 2005 joint waste management plan for the south east estimates that 23% of all household waste and 41% of all commercial and industrial waste in the region consists of packaging; the measures he proposes to implement to reduce the generation of such packaging; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33886/05]
Mr. Roche Mr. Roche
Mr. Roche: Waste prevention and minimisation is an important element of the Government’s overall integrated policy framework on waste management which is based on the internationally recognised waste hierarchy prioritising waste prevention, minimisation, recycling, energy recovery and the environmentally sound disposal of waste which cannot be recovered or recycled. Taking action to prevent waste being generated in the first instance is fundamental to the overriding objective of decoupling economic growth from growth in waste arising.
To support these objectives, my Department is funding the development and roll-out of a national waste prevention programme which will assist in delivering substantial results on waste prevention and minimisation across all waste streams, including packaging, in the years ahead. A core prevention team was established last year in the Environmental Protection Agency, EPA, to develop and drive the programme: a draft programme was published by the agency in April 2004. The core prevention team is in the process of developing baseline studies as part of the initial phase of the programme. The five-year programme also envisages mandatory waste and material audits, waste prevention pilot schemes, etc. The initial budget for the national waste prevention programme is €2 million.
Ireland has made significant progress in meeting its obligations under European Union directives with regard to the recovery and recycling of packaging waste. In 2001, Ireland, assisted by Repak, met the target of 25% packaging waste recovery target required by the directive. The latest indications are that Ireland is on course to meet the higher recovery and recycling targets specified for end 2005. The EPA has reported in its national waste database interim report for 2003 — published in December 2004 — that packaging waste recovery increased to over 44% in that year, up from 35% in 2002.
Building on our success in this area, in October 2004 I established the national strategy group on packaging waste recycling, involving the key public and private stakeholders such as Repak, IBEC, producers, waste collectors, reprocessors, local authorities and my Department, to develop an appropriate strategy to facilitate the achievement of the challenging 2011 packaging waste  recovery and recycling targets required under an amending directive on packaging and packaging waste. I have asked, in accordance with the waste hierarchy, that the proposed six-year strategy address the fundamental issues of waste prevention, minimisation and reuse. In particular, I have indicated that I will consider making a contribution from the environment fund towards trials to develop innovative packaging systems designed to reduce the amount of packaging and food waste arising in the household waste stream. These trials will be aimed at innovative improvements which will not only target a reduction in the amount of packaging on specified products but also examine the feasibility of increasing the amount of recycled material used in the manufacture of new packaging.
Mr. Deasy Mr. Deasy
632. Mr. Deasy asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if his attention has been drawn to the fact that Waterford County Council has been pioneering the recovery and processing of recyclable waste; his views on whether this success is leading to increased charges to the public; his further views on whether exorbitant increases in charges leads to illegal dumping; the measures he intends to implement to provide incentives to individuals and families to recycle; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33889/05]
Mr. Roche Mr. Roche
Mr. Roche: Local authorities and central government are working together to comply with the polluter pays principle, as this is a core element of national and EU environmental policy, including in the area of waste management. In accordance with this policy, all of society must be encouraged to reduce, reuse and recycle waste to the maximum extent possible.
Waste management planning, including the provision of facilities for the recovery and processing of recyclable waste, is primarily a matter for individual local authorities. All local authorities, including Waterford County Council, are making good progress in providing the facilities which are necessary for the effective recovery and processing of recyclable waste in their areas. In support of these efforts, my Department operates a capital grants scheme which is targeted towards the provision of waste recovery infrastructure, the need for which is identified in local authority waste management plans, or is otherwise considered to support the attainment of the recycling and recovery targets specified in these plans. My Department also makes grant assistance available to local authorities to offset the operational costs of operating existing recycling facilities.
In accordance with section 52 of the Protection of the Environment Act 2003, the determination of waste management charges is a matter for the  relevant local authority where it acts as the service provider. Similarly, where a private operator provides the collection service, it is a matter for that operator to determine charges. As with other service providers, increases in Waterford County Council’s waste charges are mainly driven by the higher environmental standards which are now rightly demanded by the regulatory authorities and society generally. This includes costs associated with the proper operation of landfills and their closure and ongoing management thereafter, as well as the need to contribute to the costs of the provision of appropriate recycling facilities.
To ensure charging systems more fully embody the polluter pays principle my Department asked service providers to move to a system of use-based charging from the current year. In addition, I have asked local authorities to engage with commercial waste collectors with a view to agreeing on a scheduling of payments, that is, a pay-as-you-go system, rather than a periodic lump sum payment. Use-based charging acts as an incentive for individuals and families to change their behaviour by effectively rewarding those who minimise their waste output through recycling. However, the imposition of a use-related charge for waste collection services does not justify individuals or households engaging in illegal waste disposal. Illegal waste activity is now being tackled in a systematic way by the Office of Environmental Enforcement in conjunction with local authorities.
Dáil Éireann 610 Written Answers. Waste Management.