Republican News · Thursday 5 October 1999

[An Phoblacht]

Crowe slams waste management report

Say no to incineration and yes to reduction reuse and recycling.

Incineration and service charges were just two of the serious issues discussed this week by South Dublin County Council.

 
Sinn Féin is opposed to bogus environmental schemes such as incinerators. This is not waste reduction. Dressing it up as waste-to-energy schemes is a sham

- Seán Crowe


The council were holding their first debate on a draft waste management plan, that proposes building an incineration facility at Dublin's Poolbeg, as well as imposing refuse collection and disposal charges of up to 200 per household in the authority area.

Sinn Féin councillors Sean Crowe and Mark Daly attended the meeting and raised a series of important issues about the draft plan. They highlighted not just the dangers of incineration, but also a range of other flaws with the plan. Below is an edited summary of the main parts of Councillor Sean Crowe's presentation to the debate.

WASTE REDUCTION

The principle of waste reduction has been overlooked in this report. There is a clear lack of equity in deciding who should carry the costs. Rather than seriously ask who is best in a position to reduce waste generation and carry the costs for this, the local householder is being targeted as a soft touch.

South Dublin households are being asked to carry the costs for a plan that will not actually reduce waste, but instead add the new danger of adopting environmentally hazardous methods of waste disposal, through the so-called thermal treatment option.

If the Council does not involve itself in serious waste reduction, the amount of waste produced in the local authority area will only increase, leaving householders with ever-increasing refuse service payments.

More importantly, Sinn Féin is opposed to bogus environmental schemes such as incinerators. This is not waste reduction. Dressing it up as waste-to-energy schemes is a sham and does nothing to allay the very real fears that Dublin residents have, of the toxins and dioxins that could be released into the atmosphere.

INCINERATION NOT AN OPTION

The report proposes that a quarter of the authority's waste will be `thermally treated'. To those who are more honest this simply means burning rubbish. Why does the report not tell us where the ash from these treatment stations will be dumped? The ash from thermal treatments is more a threat to the environment and general health than unburned waste.

Incinerators do not contain waste production. They only perpetuate its production.

The plan makes reference to the 1996 Waste Management Act. This act and the EU directives on which it was based, makes substantial reference to the need for actually reducing the amount of waste created in society. Again, we have to ask why there is no reference to this very important element of the waste management hierarchy (reduce, reuse, recycle)?

Linked to this is the proposal that the polluter pays. Sinn Féin supports the general proposal that the polluter should pay for waste they create. However this plan makes the assumption that the polluter is the consumer.

PRODUCERS ARE POLLUTERS

Can households make the packing of the products they consume more environmentally friendly? Can they reduce the amount of plastics and metals used in a product? Can they reduce the amount of needless packaging used in many of the products sold today? Can they ensure that the manufacturers of products use recycled and recyclable products in the goods they produce for sale? The answer to all these questions is `No'. Yes they can lobby and protest, but ultimately the ball is in the court of the manufacturers, not the consumers.

In the 26 Counties the only recognised scheme for waste collection is run by the employers organisation IBEC through REPAK. Every waste producer has to pay a levy to REPAK and they are supposed to fund the collection, disposal and where possible, the recycling of the waste their members produce.

They are the polluters, as recognised in the legislation, and they have the means and the mechanisms to pay for the new methods of waste disposal mentioned in the plan. The bill for these services should lie at REPAK's door and not be levied on the households of South Dublin.

COLLECTIVE WILL

This plan has three flaws. It favours incineration and household levies. It does not include a strategy for waste reduction.

We can be part of a local authority that produces less waste, recycles much, much more of the waste we do produce and creates employment and builds on community spirit at the same time.

Sinn Féin want to see many more locally run, community-lead recycling schemes. We also want to see the real polluters targeted to pay for the costs of clean up and more importantly, reduce the waste they generate. It can be done. It just takes the collective will of the council to recognise the widespread public support for such a course of action. All we have to take that first step. Say no to incineration of waste and yes to reduction, reuse and recycling.


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