New EU recycling rules prompt warning on Ringaskiddy incinerator

Sheila Nunan, Labour’s Ireland South MEP candidate, said that the EU Commission has warned against an increased in incineration.

The planned building of an incinerator at Ringaskiddy is the wrong option because of new binding EU recycling targets, Labour’s Sheila Nunan has warned.

The party’s Ireland South MEP candidate has said new binding EU waste recycling targets due to take effect from July 2020 and covering the period to 2035, should prompt a major rethink of the plans for the commercial incinerator at Ringaskiddy.

Last month, a legal challenge against the granting of planning permission to a proposed controversial €160m incinerator at Ringaskiddy in Cork Harbour opened in the High Court.

Cork Harbour Alliance for a Safe Environment (Chase) has brought the legal challenge to the granting of planning permission in May last year by An Bord Pleanála for the incinerator.

Speaking to the Irish Examiner, Ms Nunan has said the EU Commission has warned against an increased in incineration.

The report pointed out that the increased use of incineration must be closely monitored.

“Ireland must ensure that increased incineration does not prevent it from meeting the post-2020 recycling targets,” said the report, also recommending that Ireland “shift reusable and recyclable waste away from incineration and landfill” as a “priority action” for 2019.

Ms Nunan has said these new commission recommendations come on top of its February advice to the Government that caution is required regarding the increase in incineration capacity.

The commission also said investments should rather focus on projects higher up in the waste hierarchy to shift reusable and recyclable waste away from incineration and landfilling, and thus ensure that the achievement of the post-2020 municipal waste recycling targets are not compromised.

Ms Nunan said the commission is clearly expressing its concern about a potential over-capacity in incineration in Ireland that may result in Ireland not being able to meet its long-term recycling targets.

“The Government must pay heed before it is too late,” she said. “This should give rise to a major rethink of plans to build the Ringaskiddy incinerator.

“The new waste directive’s targets will require a very substantial increase in recycling in Ireland over the coming years.”

Under EU legislation, adopted in 2008, Ireland has a binding target of recycling at least 50% of household waste by 2020.

According to the latest European statistics, while the proportion of waste going into landfill fell from 38% to 26% between 2013 and 2016, the proportion recycled only rose from 37% to 41%, while the proportion incinerated shot up from 16% to 29%.

In 2018, the EU revised the waste directive to introduce more ambitious recycling targets, namely 55% by 2025, 60% by 2030, and 65% by 2035. This legislation has to be enacted by July 2020.

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