Green Party calls for leadership from Naughten on China Waste Crisis

6th January 2018

The Green Party has called on the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Denis Naughten TD, to take decisive action on waste. The call comes as China closes the door to accepting contaminated waste from abroad.
Councillor Ciarán Cuffe, the leader of the Green Party group on Dublin City Council said: “Now is the time for Minister Naughten to up his game and exercise leadership in preventing a ‘China Crisis’ in the waste industry. Minister Naughten has said that we need to move towards a Circular Economy. However, currently we are burning, dumping and exporting far too much of our waste. Much of our recycled waste has been exported in the past but as the door to China closes we have an opportunity to create more jobs and profits at home in reusing and recycling waste. China has taken away the dustbin, and we have to up our game.
“The Government must rethink how we deal with waste. There is a real danger that the China ban will lead to more incineration and dumping. For starters Minister Naughten should:
  • Require reverse vending machines in our supermarkets with a deposit on beverage containers as is the case in Germany.
  • Ban single use plastics.
  • Introduce an incineration levy similar to the landfill levy so that valuable recyclables do not go up in smoke in the Ringsend and Duleek incinerators.
  • Provide scholarships for the design of products for the Circular Economy, instead of his current petroleum exploration scholarships.
  • Phase out toxic plastics such as microbeads that damage marine life.
  • Rewrite the regulatory approval under which Repak operates to ensure Ireland reaches the proposed EU target to recycle 75 per cent of waste packaging by 2030.
  • Introduce laws to make district heating happen with waste heat from industry.
“Now is the time for action, instead of waiting for the crisis to unfold. Already recyclable material is being stockpiled in the UK. These changes were flagged by China six months ago and yet we are still waiting for Minister Naughten to respond. The same will happen here unless Minister Naughten takes decisive steps. If Minister Naughten fails to act, the consumer will have to pick up the tab and pay more for burning and sorting through our rubbish.
“As the Environmental Protection Agency has stated we are wasting a significant amount of valuable material that could be reused. The promotion of a circular economy saves money and reduces pressure on the environment.
“Irish consumers want to see their waste creating jobs here at home, but this requires changes from the top. Over to you Minister Naughten.”