Lessons from integrated Waste Management in Europe

– Case Study for Ireland


L-R: Martin Bowman, RPS Director, Perth; Dr Tony Wilkins, President WMAA; P J Rudden, RPS Ireland; Hon Bob Debus, Minister for the Environment

PJ Rudden, Business Development Director for RPS Group Ireland, gave the Keynote Address at The Annual Conference of the Waste Management Association of Australia.

The conference was held in Sydney from 20 - 22 July 2005 and was opened by the New South Wales Minister for the Environment, the Hon. Bob Debus.

The conference debated the current state of waste management in Australia and New South Wales against international benchmarks.

The following is the full text from Mr. Rudden's speech, entitled - Lessons from Integrated Waste Management in Europe - Case Study for Ireland.

1. Introduction
Ireland is a relatively small country in Western Europe with a population of 4 million people, but whose economy has been growing faster than elsewhere in the European Union (EU). We were late tackling our waste management problem in any serious way until the 1990’s. Since joining the EU in 1973, our principal efforts were concentrated on developing our transport and water infrastructure.

Since the mid 1990’s, however, we have set about tackling waste management based on best European practice. Over the past 10 years, we have built a new strategic vision from first principles - based on the premise that waste should be minimised but, if created, it should be recognised as a resource from which the citizens should derive the maximum value possible. It should be avoided if possible and minimised where possible, reused if feasible and, if not, then recycled. If this is not possible, energy should be extracted from waste before landfilling as the last resort. This valorisation of waste aims to maximise the resource value in waste and to see it as a form of resource management rather then waste management.

Irish waste management policy is firmly grounded in European Union (EU) environmental policy. The 6th Environment Action Programme1 (2001-2010) has an objective - “to decouple the generation of waste from economic growth and to achieve a significant overall reduction in the volume of waste generated through improved waste prevention initiatives, better resource efficiency and a shift to more sustainable consumption patterns”. This led to the EU Thematic Strategy on Prevention and Recycling2 and other waste related resource thematic policies. In 2005, the EU Commission - led by its President, José Manuel Barroso - are revisiting the 2001 Sustainable Development Strategy3 as part of a reinvigorated Lisbon Strategy4 - “promoting growth and jobs in a manner consistent with sustainable development”.

The Irish Waste Management Act 19965 took as its theme the EU Waste hierarchy to firstly prevent or minimise waste, then to reuse, recycle or recover waste and, lastly, to dispose of waste in a manner not likely to cause environmental pollution. The 1996 Act - and subsequent Regulations - laid the legal foundations for modern waste management in Ireland and the implementation of EU Directives.

2. Background
Prior to 1996, waste management in Ireland was still governed by the 1878 Public Health (Ireland) Act from the time of Queen Victoria! Some 95% of municipal waste was landfilled in some 300 relatively small and poorly operated dumps. The only recycling was a few glass and can “bring banks” - scattered throughout the country - operated by a charity organisation, Rehab. While Irish public policy in all other infrastructural areas had responded to European legislative requirements, the waste area remained the Cinderella of the public services.

Less than 10 years later, modern waste management in Ireland tells a totally different story. We have a very innovative national waste awareness campaign (by RPS) on our TV screens (See Figure 1) - supported by a reasonably dramatic roll-out of recycling infrastructure. Our national municipal (household and commercial) recycling rate in 2003 was 28% - in the last EPA Waste Database Report (www.epa.ie) - and is now, certainly, in excess of 30% which is double the equivalent recycling rate in the UK. While the remaining 70% of municipal waste in Ireland is currently landfilled, this will change also with increased recycling and biological treatment across the country - together with the commissioning of waste-to-energy plants in various regions, many of which are at advanced stages of planning. Based on a new regional waste management planning system and on up-to-date European policy, a new integrated waste management policy is unfolding, which is expected to yield in excess of 40% recycling, some 30% - 40% of wastes thermally treated and the residual 20% being landfilled (Figure 2).

These targets were the outcome of a detailed waste modelling exercise of four different scenarios applying different levels of recycling and both with and without thermal treatment. This led to the Best Practicable Environmental Option (BPEO) with respect to each region.

Today, some 42% of Irish households have a segregated collection based on 2 bins and some 10% of households currently have 3 bins (dry and wet recyclables in green and brown bins respectively and ‘rest’ waste in a black or grey wheelie bin). A substantial number of regions have between 25% - 30% municipal recycling and, in the City of Galway, the household recycling rate is in excess of 50%.

In 2001, the EU Directive on Packaging Waste was fully implemented with Ireland reaching 25% recovery and it is anticipated that the target of 50% recovery by 2006 will also be met. Each local authority has its own Environmental Awareness Officer supporting a national network co-ordinated by the Race against Waste National Awareness Team from RPS Group - acting on behalf of the Irish Department of Environment Heritage and Local Government.

This paper is the story of Ireland’s transformation, based on a new waste management approach firmly grounded in the principles of the European Union waste hierarchy and supported by a newly energised system of waste regulation by the Irish Environmental Protection Agency and, indeed, strong political leadership by successive Irish governments - which has proved crucial to our ongoing progress and success.

3. Birth of Waste Management Strategy in Ireland
Wicklow County Council (population c.100,000 on the east coast, just south of Dublin) was the first Irish local authority to commission a waste management strategy in 1993. This was carried out by MCOS (now part of RPS) and sought to have kerbside collection in the larger towns, supported by a new waste awareness programme.

Similar exercises were carried out for Meath County Council in 1995 (again by MCOS) - but, in both counties of similar size although they were adjacent to Dublin, there was a lack of critical mass of waste arisings to enable a fully integrated waste management approach to be pursued.

The breakthrough happened in 1997 when the four Dublin authorities (Dublin City Council, Fingal County Council, Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council and South Dublin County Council), acting in common, commissioned a wide ranging waste management strategy for the population which was then approximately 1 million people. This strategy, prepared by MCOS, sought to manage Dublin’s waste as much as possible within the city/county region and to seek a recycling target of 59% with respect to municipal waste and construction/demolition waste (c. 47% excluding C/D waste). This latter waste stream was growing substantially on the back of the Celtic Tiger and required urgent diversion from landfill.

A citywide kerbside collection of dry recyclables was recommended by MCOS, together with pilot studies on separation of the wet fraction to feed biological treatment, followed by thermal treatment of some 25% of the waste stream and residual landfill of the remainder (16%). Ambitious targets and timelines were set out to be assisted by the introduction of new waste presentation bylaws with respect to household, commercial and industrial waste. This was backed up by an extensive consultation exercise across the city and county (Figure 3).

The following year, in 1998, the Government published its new waste management policy ‘Changing Our Ways6’. This policy gave clear direction to the waste planning exercise countrywide, setting ambitious targets for landfill diversion of household waste, municipal waste recycling and an integrated network of infrastructure. This policy sought to split the country into a number of regions - each with approximately 400,000 persons to give critical mass. Each region was required to prepare a statutory waste management plan in accordance with the 1996 Waste Management Act and ensuing Regulations.

In all, seven substantive regional plans were prepared (5 of these by MCOS) and three individual county plans were also prepared and adopted for Counties Wicklow, Kildare and Donegal (including 1 by MCOS and 1 by Kirk McClure Morton) (Figure 4).

Political difficulties developed in some of the regions with the inclusion of thermal treatment/incineration as part of the integrated approach, but these were overcome successfully in 2001 when all waste management plans in Ireland were legally adopted under the EU Framework Directive. When I say “overcome successfully” - this was achieved in 2001 through a change of law, transferring the legal powers for plan adoption from Elected Members to the Council Executive. Ironically, this has worked well in a constructive fashion with the politicians, as they felt it to be inappropriate to have policy control on the sensitive waste management issues of facility location.

These plans are now well on the way to being implemented, based on strong national political leadership, concerted regional action by the local authorities and, also, through the initiative of the private waste industry by bringing forward infrastructural proposals. These plans were originally valid for the period 2001-2006 and are currently being formally reviewed. This second generation of waste plans will be adopted later this year for the period 2005-2010. These replacement plans confirm the original strategic vision of integrated waste management but seek to put more resources into waste awareness, regulation and enforcement.

The remainder of this paper will describe how, in terms of the four Rs – Reduction, Recycling, Recovery (Waste to Energy) and Residual Landfill – the regional waste management plans are being currently implemented to create an integrated system.

4. Waste Generation
The remark is commonly made with regard to many processes in life that - ‘if you cannot measure them then you cannot manage them’. That is certainly true of solid waste which, internationally, is notoriously difficult to quantify in terms of quantity and characterisation.

The Irish EPA was set up in the early 90s and commissioned the first National Waste Database in 1995. The setting up of the first database and national methodology for measuring waste arisings was assisted by MCOS at the time and repeated subsequently by the EPA itself in 1998 and 2001. A further National Database is currently being constructed for 2004 and, thereafter, wastes will be measured on a bi-annual basis in accordance with new European Waste Statistics Regulation. Nevertheless, the Irish EPA have usefully carried out a smaller survey on an annual basis, which has helped to inform policy formulation and implementation to a great extent in recent years. The early years of the national database exercise was characterised by the necessary setting up of audit trails and systems to maximise the accuracy of statistics. This accuracy has improved substantially as the various regulatory mechanisms set up by new Irish legislation came into force - requiring the operation of weighbridges at all facilities and the accurate tracking of waste through new waste collection permits regulated by each local authority. The quality of waste statistics continues to improve with each generation of EPA Database Reports and as regulation improves.

According to the OECD statistics8 published recently, waste generation in Ireland is internationally very high close to 700kg/capita (Figure 5). Recent EPA figures show municipal waste generation in Ireland to be 770kg/capita in 2003. This is not surprising when viewed against recent economic growth in Ireland. Figure 6 shows the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita in US dollars for a range of countries, including UK and Ireland against the OECD average in 2002. By 2002, economic growth had, in fact, slowed somewhat in Ireland after a decade of annual growth of between 5% - 10%.

5. Waste Prevention and Reduction
A new National Waste Prevention Programme (NWPP) has been set up under the aegis of the Irish EPA. This, together with the national Race against Waste public awareness campaign, is focusing its efforts on waste prevention, reduction at source and resource management. The priority objective of national waste management planning must be to decouple waste generation from economic development. This is a particular challenge for Ireland since over the period 1991 to 2003 Ireland’s annual growth in terms of gross domestic product (GDP) was over double the average of 2.5% for all OECD countries. This annual growth rate of over 5% was particularly impressive during the period 1995-2000 - coinciding with the period when waste management planning and infrastructural development was getting underway in Ireland and when we began grappling with the accuracy of our waste statistics.

In Ireland, we regard waste prevention as the elimination and reduction at source of material in terms of waste arisings and harmful substances. Under the NWPP, the EPA aim to deliver substantive results on waste prevention and minimisation and will integrate a range of initiatives addressing awareness, raising technical and financial assistance, training and incentive mechanisms.

In March 2005 the Local Authority Prevention Demonstration Programme (LAPD) was launched - providing local authorities with an opportunity to apply for funding for waste prevention projects and programmes that demonstrate practical measures for preventing waste. It is anticipated that the introduction of the Office of Environmental Enforcement by the EPA and ‘pay by use’ waste collection services at household level from January 1st, 2005, will have a positive effect on waste prevention and minimisation at every level - as householders, business and industry attempt to reduce waste costs by reducing their waste volumes. The possibilities of illegal burning or disposal of waste resulting from the new charges must also be monitored. There is also a notable increase in household sink macerating units, which will have to be discouraged/banned by regulation as they severely overload wastewater treatment systems which were not designed to treat solid waste in addition to sewage.

The national Race Against Waste campaign has been funded by the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government and managed by RPS. It seeks to raise public awareness about waste generation at all levels and to translate this awareness into action in terms of reducing waste in the home, in the workplace and across industry generally (Figure 7). This commenced with dramatic scenes of a “tsunami” of waste flowing over our streets and villages (Figure 1) if we don’t cut down and recycle - shown on national TV after the 9pm watershed. The campaign has a number of innovative programmes targeted at particular audiences. For instance, in 2004, the theme was ‘Small Change for Business’. This was aimed at the small to medium enterprise sector in partnership with the Chambers of Commerce of Ireland encouraging the carrying out of waste audits followed up by action plans to reduce and recycle business waste, how to deal with waste contractors and a synopsis of waste legislation as it applies to Small to Medium Business Enterprises (SMEs).

In 2005, the theme is ‘Programme for Action’ - which is aimed at large organisations, such as university campus’, government departments, the health service, prisons, the police, defence forces, transport services and local authorities themselves. A detailed guide was published to help large organisations set up a waste team, carry out audits, put a programme of action in place, address green procurement issues and how to deal effectively with specific waste streams. Running in tandem with this programme are a series of sectoral-based national seminars, which will be run during the course of the year around the country.

At a community level, a Race Against Waste module has been included in the Tidy Towns Campaign, which has been running for some 20 years (similar to Tidy Britain Campaign). In each individual town, particular merit will be achieved in the national competitions by the number of schools who have adopted the Green Schools Initiative and by the number of businesses that have taken on board the Race Against Waste campaign in terms of either large or SME type firms. Cognisance has also been taken of the many community based waste management projects which run on a voluntary basis across the country, with huge diversity - such as Sunflower Recycling Project in inner city Dublin, to the Aran Islands Recycling Project off the West coast of Ireland in County Galway.

6. Recycling
The regional plans call for a combination of recycling schemes - depending on geography and demographics - but averaging some 40% - 50% of the municipal waste stream. The preference in policy terms is to seek source separation of wastes as far as possible. This is in accordance with the internationally accepted view that the resource value of a waste is inversely propositional to its degree of mixing.

In the larger towns and cities, each household has or will have three bins – a green bin for dry recyclables, a brown bin for wet recyclables or organics and a black or grey bin for residual waste destined for thermal treatment and/or landfill. This 3 Bin system has the potential to recycle up to 51% of household waste - as has been recently achieved in Galway City and 46% in Waterford City (Figure 8). The 51% in Galway is achieved by a combination of composting (25%), dry recyclables (19%) and bring banks (7%). It should be noted that household waste collection in the cities of Dublin, Galway and Waterford - where recycling rates are highest nationally - is undertaken by the local authorities themselves, while the processing and treatment facilities are a public/private mix. As mentioned in the introduction, to date, some 42% of Irish households have a second bin and some 10% had three bins by the end of 2004. In all cases, the dry recyclables service was rolled out first as it required a great deal more planning to put the brown bin in place requiring centralised biological treatment. The green bin collection is brought to materials recovery facilities where the dry recyclables are relatively easily sorted and baled.

Unfortunately, in Ireland many of the markets for these products are abroad - in the UK for steel and aluminium and some paper and tetra paks, while the bulk of paper and other packaging is brought to markets in the Far East (especially China). While a strong regulatory environment is assisting recycling, landfill cost in Ireland of €150 to €200 per tonne is a significant driver in diverting waste from landfill also. The collection rate of dry recyclables in the Dublin region has varied between 8kg to 20kg per household per month (monthly collections of green bin) which is high by international standards (Figure 9). Figure 10 shows the significant progress nationally in recycling of various waste streams over the period 1998-2003 compared to the period prior to the introduction of integrated regional waste management plans.

There is a considerable challenge with respect to construction and demolition waste (C&D; waste) which constitutes a very high proportion of the municipal waste stream. The achievements to date against target in Figure 10 may look very encouraging, but relate mostly to the recovery of soil to agriculture - whereas the real challenges exist to reuse/recycle concrete, brick, steel, timber, asphalt and other materials. The National Construction and Demolition Waste Council (NCDWC) has been set up as a Voluntary Industry Initiative by the construction industry, with the aim of achieving 85% recycling of this waste stream as set out in “Changing Our Ways” policy document (www.ncdwc.ie).

In addition to the kerbside service in the major cities and towns, each small town (pop 3,000) has - or will have - a stand-alone waste recycling centre (previously known as civic amenity sites) and the larger towns have a number of these centres depending on the population (Figure 11). The public bring bulky goods, DIY and household hazardous waste to these facilities. Most recycling centres are free of charge to the householder, but fees apply to waste that is deposited for disposal and for specific items - such as waste electrical/electronic goods and other white goods.

A draft National Strategy for Biodegradable Waste was formulated by RPS-MCOS for the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government in early 2004 and is currently being finalised (www.environ.ie). This strategy, which is consistent with the regional waste management plans, seeks to advance construction and commissioning of biological treatment infrastructure throughout the country. To date, there are some 22 operational composting projects in Ireland - increasingly based on in-vessel systems. The two most common are being undertaken by McGill Environmental Systems and Celtic Composting - both of which use tried and tested systems that have successfully operated in Europe and the US. (Figure 12)

Mechanical biological treatment (MBT) has been proposed in some areas as an alternative to separated material for composting and the dry recyclable markets. While this treatment process can, no doubt, create diversion of waste from landfill, its role in a sustainable integrated waste management approach is more dubious. In Irish policy terms, we have taken the view that MBT is a short-term treatment method for the grey or black residual waste bin as a pre-treatment method for landfill before thermal treatment is put in place as an element in the integrated approach. Our experience of MBT shows us that its outputs are only suitable as a low quality compost - or if used as an RDF fuel in cement kilns or the like.

7. Waste to Energy
The draft National Strategy for Biodegradable Waste shows very clearly that the EU Landfill Directive targets cannot be achieved in Ireland without the introduction of thermal treatment of some kind.

Based on public consultation carried out as part of the preparation of the regional waste management plans, there is a requirement - now clearly outlined in national policy - to reduce landfill as the least desirable of all waste management options. It is also a national target to maximise material resource recovery through recycling achieved by segregated material kerbside collections in all conurbations of 1,000 persons or more.

During the formulation of the regional waste management plans in the late 1990s a parallel exercise was carried out in a number of regions (including the Dublin region) to ascertain the various forms of thermal treatment commercially available and with sufficient track record to recommend their use in the Irish context. These included gasification, pyrolysis and various forms of refuse derived fuel (RDF). It was concluded that, while the development of non-incineration thermal technologies should be watched with interest, only incineration of mostly non-recyclable waste to generate heat recovery was a sufficiently tried and tested method. Such incineration cannot be termed ‘mass burn’ in this integrated approach, due to the very high degree of kerbside recycling at the front end of the waste stream. There are, currently, three waste-to-energy proposals at various stages of planning in Ireland – two private proposals in Cork (Ringaskiddy) and Meath (Dunleek) by the Belgian firm Indaver and one Public Private Partnership project at Poolbeg for Dublin City Council. There are also two further proposals in the Irish midlands – to burn agricultural meat and bone meal as a fuel in County Offaly and another to use MSW as a fuel in a cement kiln at Kinnegad, Co. Westmeath.

All projects have experienced local opposition to varying degrees. The Poolbeg project is utilising an innovative stakeholder involvement approach, which has considerably reduced public opposition in comparison to the other proposals. This involved the use of a local Community Interest Group (CIG) who were representative of the local community (Figure 13) and independently facilitated getting a considerable amount of project information from Dublin City Council well in advance of the statutory process (www.dublinwastetoenergy.ie). The Client Representative is an RPS-COWI joint venture who have a brief to represent “the public interest” in addition to representing Dublin City Council in the PPP negotiation and facilitation.

The project is also likely to fuel a local district heating project in Dublin to supply some 30,000 homes with heat energy and some 40,000 homes with electricity. A preferred bidder is about to be announced who will design, build, operate and finance the 500,000 tonnes/annum facility for a 20 year period after which the plant will revert to the city. It is anticipated that the architecture of the chosen design will be striking - similar to other recently constructed plants in Europe (Figure 14). The issue of emissions and public health has been extensively raised while the majority of the general public in Ireland now appear assured that properly run modern plants are acceptable neighbours in city centre locations all over Europe. It is recognised that backyard burning of domestic waste is a far greater generator of dioxins than properly run incineration.

It is estimated by the Irish EPA that the incineration of 1 million tonnes of municipal waste would contribute less than 2% of the dioxins emitted nationally. As mentioned previously, this general acceptance of incineration has been greatly assisted by strong political leadership at national level and the transfer of policy issues in this area from politicians to local Council Executives acting in the public interest.

8. Landfill Disposal
Over a period of 6 to 7 years, we have experienced a substantial reduction in landfill numbers from some 300 poorly sited and poorly regulated sites to some 30 well sited well regulated sites. The vast majority of these sites are owned and run by local authorities, though new greenfield sites tend to be owned and run by waste contractors. New sites and, indeed, extensions to existing landfills, tend to be of the “landraise” variety as landfilling in disused quarries is discouraged by the statutory groundwater protection body - Geological Survey of Ireland (GSI). Landraise sites are in fact easier to engineer and to monitor/contain, where leachate and gas systems are relatively easy to manage. Site selection is guided by an EPA Manual on Landfill Site Selection which sieves out exclusionary areas on environmental grounds (regional aquifers, areas of natural environmental designation - including ecological/archaeological sites and areas around airports), followed by a detailed comparison of alternative sites under technical environmental and economic headings. Figure 15 shows a recent extension to the Balleally landfill in North County Dublin both before and after the extension adjacent to the Dublin/Belfast railway line and close to a designated RAMSAR ecological site on the east coast. This extension was facilitated by a very pro-active stakeholder involvement process with local people.

9. Economic Instruments (Inc Pay As You Throw (PAYT) Schemes)
In recent years, the use of regulatory instruments have gained much political and public support in Ireland. The use of plastic bags was banned in shops and supermarkets in March 2002 and, within a few weeks, gained 90% public support. Previously 1.2 billion plastic shopping bags were provided free of charge - equivalent to 325 bags per person per annum. The introduced levy of 15 cent per bag on the 10% of bags still in circulation, yielded €19m in revenue for the Environment fund. Similar bans on chewing gum, ATM bank receipts and takeaway food packaging - though initially proposed by Government - have not been proceeded with, simply because - unlike the substitution of durable or strong paper bags for plastic bags - there was no sustainable alternative material or practice available to act as substitution.

For economic instruments to work, clear alternative and more sustainable strategies must exist and also, the revenue for non-compliance must help fund increased awareness to ensure compliance. This, in turn, is accepted as logical and worthwhile by the public who see that alternative human behaviour is rewarded. Since January 1st 2005 “Pay by Use” waste charges have applied to all household producers in Ireland. This “pay by weight or by volume” system needs to reward people who prevent, minimise or recycle waste. The Dublin region currently operates a two bin system (green and black) with a brown bin for organics due to be introduced in 2006. There is a standing charge typically of €80 per annum plus a €4 charge per bin lift and 20 cent per kilogramme. It is too early to judge how effective the new system will be. There is already a noticeable drop in the number of bin lifts resulting from the charges, but we need to ensure that it is due to waste minimisation and additional recycling and not illegal disposal or burning or flushing down our kitchen sinks using in-sink macerators.

Prior to introduction of PAYT schemes, the average household waste charge in Ireland was €200-€400 per annum depending on geographical location. This is the only local authority charge in Ireland as there are no local taxes or other property or community charges levied as the supply of public water is now a charge on general national taxation.

Producer Responsibility
A number of producer responsibility schemes are in place for packaging (www.repak.ie), construction and demolition waste (www.ncdwc.ie), end of life vehicles and electrical/electronic goods under the WEEE Directive. These are starting to work well for priority waste streams and more are planned for newsprint and waste tyres.

Lessons Learnt
From a poor baseline prior to the 1990’s, Ireland is now on the road to the European model of integrated waste management - dramatically cutting its previous dependence on landfill. This will lead to a reduction in the current very high landfill gate fees due to competition from recycling and waste-to-energy facilities. This is also helped by increased private sector involvement and investment in waste management. The regional model of waste management planning in Ireland has delivered real change in permitting and regulating towards the integrated approach through waste collection permits and waste presentation bye-laws.

At national level, we have had the political will to inspire change and to invest in the advice of professional waste management planners, engineers and environmental scientists. The new integrated waste system planned for Ireland - and now being implemented - has been evaluated as the Best Practicable Environmental Option (BPEO) leading to environmental improvements and an affordable waste management system in the future. Also, the integrated approach will be more robust and economically stable as it offers alternative options in the event of operational difficulties with any one element of the system. In short, it delivers better waste and resource management to waste producers in a sustainable way, to meet best international standards.

In conclusion we have found that waste management is really about people. The projects in Ireland that have invested in having people as part of the solution have been successful. Waste management initiatives purely involving machines and technology do not succeed unless there is adequate stakeholder involvement and any use of technology needs to be part of an integrated solution together with prevention and recycling policies. That said, the concept of “zero waste” - while offering a legitimate expectation - is not a practical solution to our waste problem, at least not in this generation or the next. It may be viable as a long term aim to assist in fostering waste prevention, reduction and recycling – but, in the meantime, we need to manage the wastes we are producing in an integrated way by a balanced mix of separation and composting, thermal treatment and landfill - to meet the current and medium term needs of this generation. Stakeholder involvement must include information giving on what people, business and industry produce, how we propose to manage it, what are its impacts, what are the alternative options, how much will it cost and who takes the decisions in the public interest.

The free market will not solve the waste management problem, but a properly regulated market that offers the individual incentives to produce less waste, will deliver an optimum service for both the waste producer and for society as a whole. Economic instruments only work when you provide a viable alternative and more sustainable strategy and when the costs of non-compliance are channelled back to help fund awareness building. This helps to achieve better resource management in general and especially more sustainable waste management for our society.


1. ‘Environment 2010: Our Future, Our Choice’, Sixth Environment Action Programme, Brussels (2001)

2. Towards a Thematic Strategy on the Prevention and Recycling of Waste, Brussels (2003)

3. EU Strategy for Sustainable Development, Brussels (2001)

4. Working Together for Growth and Jobs – A New Start for the Lisbon Strategy, Brussels (2005)

5. Waste Management Acts 1996 to 2003

6. Policy Statement on ‘Waste Management – Changing Our Ways’, Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Dublin (1998)

7. National Waste Database Interim Report for 2003, EPA, Wexford (2004)

8. OECD Factbook 2005 – Economic Environmental and Social Statistics, Paris (2005)


Note Following on from the above address at the WMAA Conference, WME magazine - Australia's leading environmental publication - conducted a poll asking the question - 'Europe considers incineration a better alternative than landfill. Is It time to put incineration back on the agenda in Australia?'

The results of the poll - published in WME's September 2005 volume, showed a staggering majority in favour of re-establishing incineration as a viable alternative in Australia - with figures of 76%-Yes to 24%-No.



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