A study on Composting commissioned by Niagara Region’s Waste Management Services Division has vindicated the MBT (mechanical Biological treatment) approach to landfill avoidance. The report shows that the costs of Composting are by far the lowest of all alternative options when considering the ‘true cost’ of waste management.
ZWAI recommends that ‘true cost’ analysis be applied to all evaluations of waste management proposals in Ireland. This will ensure we select the most beneficial method for current and future needs. “‘True costs’ represent the cost of operations minus the environmental cost of each option,” said Ollan Herr, director, ZWAI. “The environmental cost is calculated by giving a value to items like greenhouse gas emissions, carbon credits” . The arguments for the beginning of large scale composting and anaerobic digestion of organics in this country are now beyond doubt. This has been brought into sharp focus by the new EU Environmental targets set out on Jan 24th.
Ireland has a lot of catching up to do to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. The easiest win for Ireland is simply to divert all organics away from landfills through a large scale composting and anaerobic digestion network. This will harness energy from the waste, avoid landfill greenhouse gas emissions and provide valuable fertilizers and soil enrichment. Presently over one third of our landfill waste is organic. This volume can be completely eliminated and put to better use.
ZWAI demands that the Minister for the Environment and Local Government declares the date beyond which it will be illegal for householders or the waste collectors to mix organics with other waste. This should be further enforced by the bylaws. From that date forward all organics in all local authority areas within the state must be composted at home or be presented in a separate organics bin for separate collection.
ZWAI suggests a launch date of January 1st 2009. Organics such as food waste, vegetation waste etc will, in some cases, still be delivered to landfill – however it must be delivered and weighed separately when it arrives at the landfill and then separated. The advantage is that the Minister then has the option to impose a specific organic waste or carbon tax to be imposed only on the organics fraction going to landfill or incineration. This will pay for EPA inspectors to be employed full time at each landfill and incinerator – in the same way that veterinary inspectors are permanently on site at meat factories.
ZWAI are presently engaging with the Ministers strategy advisory group to promote a Zero Waste attitude to all waste issues.