Intelligent solutions to waste
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.