FIGURES revealed at a recent Clare County Council meeting show that the amount of recyclable material being brought to the Scariff Recycling Plant has dropped off by over 65% on last year, at a time when plans have been lodged to expand the facility.
Following a motion tabled by East Clare county councillor Pat Hayes, David Timlin, director of services with the environment and water services department of Clare County Council, outlined the tonnage intake of Clare’s five recycling plants.
Figures released show that for the first six months of 2008, a total of 911.44 tonnes was taken in at the Scariff plant and this figure dropped by 64.7% for the second half of 2008, where 321.57 tonnes was taken in.
Based on the first half of 2008 and the same period this year, a drop of 65.88% is recorded and a similar drop is predicted for the second half of 2009, according to the council’s estimates.
Despite the drop in usage, the county council has an application for an extension of the plant, which it says is required to improve health and safety standards within the facility and to make it more user-friendly to the public.
Speaking about the issue, Councillor Pat Hayes explained that the figures reflected a drop-off following the introduction of recycling charges at the East Clare facility in February 2009. He also said that illegal dumping occurring across East Clare could be attributed to the introduction of these charges in light of the current economic climate.
“The drop in usage is a concern. You would have to be worried if there was a 65% drop during that period. A further question is where has all that waste gone? A number of people will tell you that it has led to illegal dumping right across the county. And I’ve come across of a number of sites and instances of this in East Clare. Whether it’s through prosecuting people or reducing the recycling charges, dumping will have to be stamped out.
“In the current climate, people are looking at all issues in a household and for some, refuse charges are something that maybe people can’t afford. We need to look at schemes where people on benefits should be allowed free access to recycling centres and this has been raised with me by a number of people. You can claim tax rebate on refuse charges but you can’t with recycling centres or bring centres,” Councillor Hayes said.
Meanwhile, a second recycling facility has been granted planning permission less than 5km from the council’s Scariff facility.
Clare Waste & Recycling Co Ltd this week received 10-year temporary planning permission for the retention and completion of works for a recycling facility at Raheen, Tuamgraney, a few kilometres from the Scariff plant.
The Clare Waste development is a recovery and transfer facility, which is permitted to accept and process municipal wastes, including commercial and industrial wastes and construction and demolition wastes.
The company currently has a waste permit to cater for 13,000 tonnes of waste and it acknowledges that there is a need in the area for such a development.
It outlined that the amount of waste being generated in the Clare/Limerick/Kerry region was on the increase and a large amount of this was down to the increase of construction and demolition waste. It cited a 14% increase in recycling in this region for household waste between 1998 and 2004 and a 61% increase in respect of commercial and industrial waste for the same period.
Commenting on the facility, Councillor Hayes said, “There is always a need to upgrade services and I welcome the granting of planning for Clare Waste. It’s important to sustain employment and I hope that it might lead to the creation of further jobs there, as it is particularly critical to retain jobs here.”