Wednesday, 24 October 2018
I thank the Cathaoirleach for the opportunity to raise this issue. I am asking the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment to increase funding for, and the number of, collection centres for agricultural tyre recycling. This follows on from the announcement last September of four locations nationwide for agricultural tyres to be collected. The four locations were distributed around the country in Cavan, Wexford, Galway and Tipperary. It was an amazingly successful initiative. Many hundreds of thousands of tyres were collected. Members of the agricultural community were charged a fee if the weight of the tyres collected went over a certain limit - 3 tonnes, I think. We really need a policy on this area. Picking four areas around the country and having them as the collection centres was an appropriate start but now we need to roll out a full scheme.
The scheme does not make sense in many ways. I will give the example of my county of Cork. There are more cows in Cork than in Northern Ireland, but there was no collection centre in Cork. If tyres had to be transported from parts of my constituency up to the nearest location, being in Tipperary, the distance travelled would be over 250 km. It would cost literally €1,000 to get a lorry up there and down again. It was therefore not logical for farming in my part of the world to avail of this very important scheme. Speaking parochially again, in Cork we had the Dunlop tyre factory, which closed in the early 1980s. As a result we had a massive array of tyres that were distributed locally to farmers, so we have a history in the county of having an awful lot of tyres. We needed a solution and the nearest solution we got was Tipperary.
There is already a scheme, as the Minister of State knows, for farm plastics. Farm plastics are collected in every co-operative the length and breadth of this country at least annually. There is a fee attached, but everyone goes to their local co-operative and recycles their farm plastics. They travel 2 miles, 3 miles or 4 miles, depending on the location. That is the logical space into which we need to move the agricultural tyre recycling service: in the same dynamic and the same situation we have with recycling of farm plastics.
What I am asking for today is an increase in the funding in this regard and that we look at the model that has already been very successful for recycling farm plastics being used for the recycling of farm tyres. The tyres that are there are a blight on us, a blight on society and a blight on our farmyards. We have now moved into a greener space. Farming has become in many ways a green industry because it had to do so. The world has changed. Farmers want to be a part of this revolution, ensuring that our environment is appropriately clean. This is a very important initiative. For it to have a major effect, it must come down to every parish and to the co-op and follow the model that has been in place for farm plastics. If I told the Minister of State 20 years ago that there would be a scheme for the collection of farm plastics, he would think I had gone mad, but now it is the norm. The question now is to expand it into this space so farmers have the opportunity to recycle these waste tyres for which they no longer have any use.