Dáil Éireann - Volume 640 - 25 October, 2007

Written Answers. - Waste Recycling.

Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the investigation his Department has carried out in respect of expected markets for materials extracted during mechanical biological treatment at landfill sites. [25836/07]

  Deputy John Gormley: Ireland has seen dramatic improvements in municipal waste recycling over the past decade. The most recent National Waste Report, published by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), states that the recovery rate for municipal waste in 2005 was 34.6%. This was almost four times the equivalent figure for 1998, which was 9%. These increases in recycling rates were achieved through a range of measures including segregated collections for dry recyclables and the provision of a nationwide network of bring facilities where materials can be deposited for recycling. Notwithstanding these increases, high quality mechanical and biological treatment of residual municipal waste can contribute to further improvements in municipal waste recovery and recycling particularly in relation to metals and plastics.

Demand for recyclable material remains strong internationally as evidenced by high prices for plastics and metals. As outlined in successive National Waste Reports, Ireland relies significantly on foreign-based materials recycling infrastructure, which dealt with 83% of recycled waste in 2005. Europe accounts for 86% of all recyclable waste exported from Ireland.

A Market Development Programme for Waste Resources 2007-2011 was published in April 2007. The purpose of the Programme is to promote stable demand for recovered materials, including materials recovered at MBT plants, and to support the achievement of economies of scale in the production of products made from recycled materials, as well as the need for more recycling infrastructure in Ireland to reduce reliance on overseas markets. The Programme also seeks to identify new applications and markets for recyclable material and secondary recycled products. Implementation arrangements for the Programme will be put in place shortly.