Thursday, 28 November 2019
Ceisteanna ó Cheannairí - Leaders' Questions
This is quite a technical issue and I will ensure the Deputy gets a good response in writing also. I will address some of the issues now, as flagged by Deputy Lowry.
The legislative framework for the import and export of waste in the European Union is set down in very clear regulations in the European Parliament and the Council. Under the waste management and shipment of waste regulation 2017, Dublin City Council is designated as the national competent authority for the waste exports and imports. The National TransFrontier Shipments Office, NTFSO, was established under the auspices of Dublin City Council.
It is important to clarify that used farm plastics are not categorised as hazardous waste. The NTFSO has determined that used farm plastics can be shipped in accordance with green procedures, as opposed to amber procedures, provided that used farm plastics have undergone treatment at an authorised facility in Ireland. This treatment includes processes such as sorting and washing that result in the removal of contaminants like sand, soil, grit and stones from the plastics prior to export. Unprocessed used farm plastics are subject to the prior notification and consent procedures set down in EU regulations, which apply to the shipment of amber listed waste. There is an issue between amber and green listed waste and I accept that this has a real consequence for where one can export to. Differentiating the two is the cleaning mechanism to make sure that, effectively, pure farm waste plastics are being exported.
The Deputy referred to the IFFPG. It does a very good job for farmers in respect of collection and making available 235 bring centres annually for farmers to bring waste plastics. Yes, there is a challenge in that it is proving more difficult to export to some of the markets we previously exported to. Bord na Móna has opened a recycling facility in Littleton in the old briquette factory, which has reopened in a partnership between AES Bord na Móna and the Sabrina Manufacturing Group. This facility now recycles farm waste plastic, which had previously been exported, into plastic pellets that are used in the production of plastic films. Currently 24 people are employed at the facility but it is intended to increase this number to 40. A submission is being prepared to increase the intake of waste plastics to 50,000 tonnes. This will see a further 20 jobs on top of that next year. We are building capacity at home to recycle farm plastics in an environmentally sound way. There are also export options under a green category rather than the amber category, but it has to be cleaned first.