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Mandatory brown bin collections could be introduced under new waste strategy

The government will also examine expanding the range of items allowed in the green bin and banning bulky waste from landfill.

Image: Shutterstock/Anze Furlan

MANDATORY BROWN BIN collections could be introduced as part of a suite of measures to tackle waste, the government has said.

The idea was floated today by Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Richard Bruton as he announced public consultation on his Department’s new strategy to reduce the amount of waste produced by Irish households.

Some of the measures outlined – namely a ban on a range of single-use plastics such as plates, cutlery, straws, balloon sticks, and food containers, and placing a levy on tobacco companies to assist in the clean-up of cigarette butts – were previously committed to under a plan approved a EU level earlier this year.

In the addition to this, the government will examine expanding the range of items allowed in the green bin and banning bulky waste from landfill.

‘Poor practices in business’, resulting in high levels of recyclable material being sent to landfill, will be a major focus.

The proposed mandatory brown bin collections would aim to reduce the amount of food waste which ends up in landfill, something which contributes significantly to greenhouse gas emissions. The contents of brown bins are instead used to produce compost.

In 2017, Burton’s predecessor, Denis Naughten, increased the availability of brown bin collections. 

All waste collectors were required to start rolling-out food and organic brown bins to all localities nationwide with a population greater than 500 people. The previous threshold where brown bins must be supplied was 1,500.

Brown bin collections are also frequently not available in apartment buildings.

In a statement today, Minister Bruton said:

We must radically change our wasteful use of precious resources which damages our climate and our environment and compromises our future. Key targets are plastic waste, food waste, single use habits (from fast fashion to plastic straws), poor waste separation and illegal dumping.

“We need to act now and we have identified 75 measures which can be quickly implemented. These include: enforcing existing rules, encouraging audits and waste reduction targets, higher fees for difficult to recycle packaging and bringing commercial vehicle tyres into the successful tyre recycling scheme.”

The exact detail of what this will entail, such as measures to tackle fast fashion and an attempt to halve the amount of food waste, is yet to be ironed out as the government seeks input from interested parties on the proposals.

Alongside this public consultation, a new advisory group consisting of government officials and presentations from NGOs, industry, and regulators was also announced.

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In March of this year, MEPs voted overwhelmingly in favour of a wide-ranging ban on single-use plastics.

The Single Use Plastics Directive set a 90% collection target for plastic bottles by 2029 and states that recycled materials should make up 25% of each plastic bottle by 2025. That’s to increase to 30% by 2030.

About the author:

Nicky Ryan

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