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 A Load of Old Rubbish - Recycling in Ireland

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PostSubject: A Load of Old Rubbish - Recycling in Ireland   Tue Dec 23, 2008 2:18 am

Prices and saleability of Irish recycled materials has crashed in the last 6 months. The economic downturn in China has reduced demand for recycled materials and apparently Irish recycled materials are of such poor quality that they are virtually unmarketable. John Gormley has given permission to stockpile material, but a real waste emergency must be building up as a lot of Council's are out of landfill capacity and incinerators have been permitted but are not constructed yet.

Recycling was always an act of faith, as most Irish material is exported and its ultimate fate is out of our control. I found it impossible to get clear instructions on what could and could not be included in recycling in spite of ringing the Council's waste management officer.
A while back this year I remember hearing that all our carefully segregated waste was being mixed up again and re-sorted.

There was also a report out recently that said that collection charges throughout the country are contradictory, particularly in failing to give consistent reductions to low income households.

Peter Bacon has just produced for packaging recycling group Repaka report saying that waste charges need to rise by €24 over the next few years to make up for lost revenue companies are facing through the collapse of the waste market.

This is from the Irish Times:

Quote :
Bacon said the waste industry was facing a shortfall of revenue of between €20 million and €40 million due to the collapse in global market prices for recycled materials.

The value of a tonne of material recovered for recycling has fallen by €80 a tonne from 2007 prices, meaning that it is no longer economically viable for companies to continue to collect and process material.

Export prices for mixed papers reached a peak of €89.50 per tonne in July 2008, before falling to €44.8 in October. It is currently priced at only €7per tonne.

Cardboard peaked in March 2008 at more than €114 per tonne, but has since fallen to under €20.

http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/finance/2008/1217/1229035813325.html
http://www.rte.ie/news/2008/1219/recycling.html

This seems to be another costly failure that didn't need to happen. There is a lot of evidence that Irish people are enthusiastic about recycling, but we end up with substandard material. There is no serious attempt to deal with recyclables in Ireland and most material was being exported. The fact that the quantities here are quite small is surely compensated for by the fact that they don't have to be shipped abroad?

Does anyone know why the recycled material we are producing is of such poor quality? And does John Gormley have a plan?
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PostSubject: Re: A Load of Old Rubbish - Recycling in Ireland   Tue Dec 23, 2008 3:57 am

A topic close to my heart at this moment. I shall be re-reading bits of Richard Girling's worthy (it's better than that, honest!) book Rubbish! Dirt on our Hands and Crisis Ahead and be researching the company Oxigen Ireland over the next week. If anyone has any experience / interesting info on them ... please do post.

I have been depressed about the whole recycling malarkey (how do you spell that?!) [MOD]malarkey[/MOD]for a while now. It hasn't made sense for at least a year in England.


Last edited by Ard-Taoiseach on Tue Dec 23, 2008 4:01 am; edited 2 times in total (Reason for editing : spelling - come on, only a few hours to Xmas hols. allow me even more mistakes than usual)
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PostSubject: Re: A Load of Old Rubbish - Recycling in Ireland   Tue Dec 23, 2008 4:03 am

Thank you, whoever is modding. [MOD]And punctuating![/MOD]
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PostSubject: Re: A Load of Old Rubbish - Recycling in Ireland   Tue Dec 23, 2008 7:29 am

It's a worrying development alright. They may get in line behind the bankers and the auto workers I suppose. I wonder why our waste is of inferior quality, what makes waste good?

I hope word of this doesn't make people stop bothering to recycle.
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PostSubject: Re: A Load of Old Rubbish - Recycling in Ireland   Tue Dec 23, 2008 2:35 pm

evercloserunion wrote:
It's a worrying development alright. They may get in line behind the bankers and the auto workers I suppose. I wonder why our waste is of inferior quality, what makes waste good?

I hope word of this doesn't make people stop bothering to recycle.

Frankly evercloserunion, we might as well not be bothering at the moment, as it looks as if it will all be incinerated or going to landfill on the basis of what is happening now. "Contamination" is the problem apparently.

For recycling to work properly, everyone at every stage of the process needs to know exactly what to do, what the end result is that's being aimed at. It also needs to be enforced.
It is a bit like hospital hygiene or pig feed production - the product is only as good as the weakest link. If householders are putting dirty materials in, or sorting is half hearted or wrongly managed, then unsaleable rubbish will be the end result.

If every household knew what constituted top quality saleable recyclables and if their disposal was free (with fines if contaminated material added in) and if the people handling it after collection worked to the same standard, surely this could be turned around?

I guarantee you it could be sorted out if the will was there to do it.
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PostSubject: Re: A Load of Old Rubbish - Recycling in Ireland   Tue Dec 23, 2008 2:46 pm

Hmmm... is there will to do it though? I'm worried that if we start saying that it's not good enough and that people aren't doing it right people will only lose the will.
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PostSubject: Re: A Load of Old Rubbish - Recycling in Ireland   Tue Dec 23, 2008 2:57 pm

Upping the charges for bins should encourage more people to go to their recycling centre nearby but charging there should be approached cautiously. I'd suggest publishing the spending details of the revenue created - people won't pay if they find out their recycling charges are being used to fund the developer's bill for the €37m White Elephant of a Cliffts of Moher visitor's Goddam centre which is a complete flop and built by the council (there is also a public toilet in Kilrush county clare which is costing the LA 35k a flipping year but gets 1k back - article)

Remember these photos I posted on the Winter Photos thread ? It's of recycled glass and with the least fuss. The glass is whirled around in a giant candy-floss making machine and the action of the glass against itself knocks all the edges off, making it easily handleable and colourful. It feels like soft gravel or even sand to walk on it and could have tons of uses as it has excellent drainage properties.

The man who makes it in West Clare says he invented the machine. He also told me of a plastics recycling dude nearby who invented some other machine for recycling plastics - maybe I should start one to do the same with cotton clothing ... ?

He told me that Gormley changed things to make it easier for him to get his hands on glass. Before that he had to get a seperate licence from each Local Authority or Council in order to retrieve their dumped glass.


The first half dozen are of the glass. He is also restoring the West Clare railway or part of it. He's doing it as a hobby too.
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PostSubject: Re: A Load of Old Rubbish - Recycling in Ireland   Tue Dec 23, 2008 3:44 pm

evercloserunion wrote:
Hmmm... is there will to do it though? I'm worried that if we start saying that it's not good enough and that people aren't doing it right people will only lose the will.



People imo intuitively know when they are being sold a pup. I still wash out milk cartons although I know they will end up going into landfill. How sad is that?
You have to be honest with people if you want them to respond.
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PostSubject: Re: A Load of Old Rubbish - Recycling in Ireland   Wed Dec 24, 2008 4:15 pm

Even upping the chares will achieve little. Ireland does not have the facilities to even reprocess 5% of its waste. Most of our ''recycled'' material is put on a boat and shipped elsewhere. Any council that produces figures saying they recycle 20% of their waste is simply lying.
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PostSubject: Re: A Load of Old Rubbish - Recycling in Ireland   Sat Dec 27, 2008 6:56 am

riven wrote:
Even upping the chares will achieve little. Ireland does not have the facilities to even reprocess 5% of its waste. Most of our ''recycled'' material is put on a boat and shipped elsewhere. Any council that produces figures saying they recycle 20% of their waste is simply lying.

Yes: it appears to me that there is a crunch coming - they are storing material at the moment because they have nowhere to put it. Landfills are full and incinerators aren't ready (and aren't wanted).

riven, do you know if any of the planned incinerators are to produce heat for district heating systems, or else what do they propose to do with the energy they produce?
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PostSubject: Re: A Load of Old Rubbish - Recycling in Ireland   Sat Dec 27, 2008 7:38 am

The EPA have a lot of information on their site: apparently we are producing twice as much waste as ten years ago. I would have thought that waste reduction/avoidance ought to be the top priority.
http://www.epa.ie/environment/waste/

Forfas is seriously concerned that the lack of an achievable national waste management plan and high costs to business plan are going to impact on business in the near future.

http://www.forfas.ie/media/forfas080528_waste_benchmarking_press_release.pdf

http://www.forfas.ie/media/forfas080528_waste_benchmarking.pdf

There is a court case going on against a price-fixing waste collection cartel in Mayo.
http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/finance/2008/1204/1228337398539.html

Pay per view report on waste charges by Frank Covery. Local authorities are allowed to charge by weight, but do any of them do it?

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_udi=B6VFR-4TDBM84-1&_user=10&_rdoc=1&_fmt=&_orig=search&_sort=d&view=c&_acct=C000050221&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=10&md5=30d33bcf713f6288de2d312c9bcfad96

The Ombudsman produced a report last month that said that since privatisation some local authorities have no bin charges waiver scheme for people on low incomes - she described the situation as "shambolic". Charges are up to 500 euro pa and people can experience severe hardship.

http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/ireland/2008/1020/1224454388456.html
http://www.indymedia.ie/article/65124?save_prefs=true

The dioxin in pork disaster was essentially a waste disposal disaster. The oils with pcbs were waste, and an EPA licence is required to dispose of them by burning - it seems there is no way of tracking this kind of stuff to be sure that its safely disposed of.
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PostSubject: Re: A Load of Old Rubbish - Recycling in Ireland   Sat Dec 27, 2008 9:23 am

Chap over on Indymedia makes an interesting point about commercial outlets not being forced to recycle: LINK.

As Cactus said above, we've doubled our waste in the last 10 years. A lot of the fault in this is companies deciding to wrap absolutely everything in plastic. Over packaging. And it seems to get worse every year. You buy a dvd, it comes in a plastic case - fair enough - in addition to that, it's also wrapped in plastic, must keep it fresh or something. I bought a tiny little mp3 player as a present, it weighs less than half an ounce. All the packaging totalled close to 1/4 pound.

There's a security issue to this. It makes it harder for thieves to make off with small sized items. On top of that, there's a profit to be made, you must pay for the extra packaging. There's no incentive whatsoever to prevent this, neither is there a penalty, for manufacturers, nor for retailers. We must suffer the penalty.

On top of all that, plastic is made from oil. We're quite literally making rubbish from oil and oil is getting short. We're also polluting the environment and making a heavy carbon footprint to create and deal with this rubbish.

What have the authorities to say on this, what have they done about it and what do they intend to do about it?

Nada.
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PostSubject: Re: A Load of Old Rubbish - Recycling in Ireland   Sat Dec 27, 2008 2:08 pm

The waste incinerators i believe will be used primarily for electricity generation.
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PostSubject: Re: A Load of Old Rubbish - Recycling in Ireland   Tue Mar 10, 2009 12:08 pm

Quote :

Irish people generate 750kg of waste per person, finds EPA report

http://www.examiner.ie/ireland/idgbmhmhoj/

EACH person in Ireland generated more than three-quarters of a ton of waste, making us the second biggest producer of waste in the EU, according to the latest figures.

Two-thirds of this waste was land-filled, while a third was recycled — one of the highest percentages in the union.

But only Denmark generated more waste than the Irish, throwing away more than 800kg of packaging, more food remains and more garbage.

The EPA report according to the Examiner says we increased our quantity of waste by 65% in the ten years prior to 2005. Other figures and statistics from the article:

Quote :
The country that generated the least amount of waste was the Czech Republic with 294kg per person — less than half that produced by the Irish.

...

Germany has the highest recycling rate for municipal waste at 46% while Ireland recycles about 34%, the fourth highest in the EU.

The remaining two thirds is land filled. Bulgaria landfills all its waste.
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PostSubject: Re: A Load of Old Rubbish - Recycling in Ireland   Tue Mar 10, 2009 1:36 pm

Maintaining confidence in the recycling system is important.

John Gormley has made a lot of progress in this regard. For example, he's put in place a new export licensing system which effectively means recyclables can no longer be sent to cowboy outfits in China.
He sped up the implementation of the WEEE directive with regard to batteries. I'd like to see the same done for light bulbs soon.

Just a few months ago a new recycling plant opened in Dublin, so we are now recycling some plastic here in Ireland.

Did you know light bulbs are recycled in Ireland now? RTE's EcoEye had a piece on it.
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