In­tel­li­gent so­lu­tions to waste

Irish Examiner - - Opin­ion -

It’s a pity that the writer of your edi­to­rial of Au­gust 16 (‘Rub­bish Veto May Make us Face Re­al­ity’) had not looked more closely at the real facts about the in­cin­er­a­tor ap­pli­ca­tion for Rin­gask­iddy, be­fore he/she ac­cused those ob­ject­ing to it as “want­ing it both ways”, i.e. to en­joy the waste­ful so­ci­ety, while mount­ing a “vis­ceral and un­re­lent­ing” cam­paign against “in­dus­trial so­lu­tions” to it.

We must deal with our waste, but not through mass in­cin­er­a­tion, de­stroy­ing re­sources. We need to tackle the cause of waste, rather than its symp­toms, to in­cen­tivise prod­uct de­sign that max­imises ma­te­ri­als re-use, en­ergy con­ser­va­tion, and ef­fi­cient ecy­cling.

This type of zero-waste pol­icy pro­vides far more jobs, is sus­tain­able, and pro­tects health. Incin­er­a­tors com­mit us to pro­duc­ing large quan­ti­ties of waste for 30/40 years. In­stead of ex­port­ing re­cy­clable waste to China, we can cre­ate our own re­cy­cling in­dus­tries, treat­ing waste as a re­source. To avoid con­tam­i­na­tion, we need mech­a­nisms and in­cen­tives for sep­a­ra­tion, prior to col­lec­tion. In­cin­er­a­tion is a back­ward “in­dus­trial so­lu­tion”. Noth­ing is solved or “got rid of” when you burn waste; you just change its form.

Waste incin­er­a­tors all gen­er­ate emis­sions that con­tain per­sis­tent or­ganic pol­lu­tants, such as diox­ins and fu­rans and ash con­tam­i­nated with toxic heavy me­tals which re­quire spe­cial­ist land­fill fa­cil­i­ties. In­cin­er­a­tion is not “waste to en­ergy”, but “a waste of en­ergy”. You can never re­trieve the en­ergy that has been used to pro­duce, process, and trans­port the waste in the first place. It is not the an­swer to cli­mate change, ei­ther. Study the analy­ses of stack emis­sions.

Your ac­cu­sa­tion that CHASE re­jected the EC doc­u­ment on waste dis­posal is false.

The EC stressed, again, the supremacy of pre­ven­tion and re­cy­cling. More­over, we have made it very clear that we sup­port the prox­im­ity prin­ci­ple, quot­ing Ar­ti­cle 16 of the EU Frame­work for Waste Man­age­ment, i.e. that mem­ber states take ap­pro­pri­ate steps, to­gether, to bring about an in­te­grated net­work of fa­cil­i­ties, en­sur­ing that the EU, as a whole, be­comes self­suf­fi­cient.

The prin­ci­ple of prox­im­ity and self-suf­fi­ciency does not mean that ev­ery mem­ber state has to have all the fa­cil­i­ties nec­es­sary for the use­ful ap­pli­ca­tion of dif­fer­ent forms of treat­ment. The EU has put pre­ven­tion at the top of its hi­er­ar­chy of waste-man­age­ment so­lu­tions and we must take this se­ri­ously.

The cir­cu­lar econ­omy is now Euro­pean and Irish pol­icy. We are not try­ing to have it “both ways”. We want the best way for the planet, our health, and fu­ture gen­er­a­tions.

Roma Ful­ton In­nis­han­non Co. Cork

Edi­tor’s foot­note: Our edi­to­rial com­ment of Au­gust 16 did not ad­vo­cate in­cin­er­a­tion as a so­lu­tion. Nor did we say that CHASE had re­jected the EC doc­u­ment. We stated that the in­ter­pre­ta­tions of the im­pli­ca­tions of that doc­u­ment are in dis­pute, par­tic­u­larly in respect of the ‘prox­im­ity prin­ci­ple’. We stand by the com­ments we made on Au­gust 16.

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