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EPA Publishes Industrial Pollutant Emissions Data

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published environmental data yesterday on Ireland’s national pollutant and transfer register.

This is a public register of pollutant releases and waste transfers from large industrial activities in Ireland. The information supports EU-wide reporting through the European Commission’s e-Register website which contains data reported annually by more than 34,000 industrial facilities across 33 European Countries.

Covering 91 pollutants from 417 large industrial facilities in Ireland, the data indicates trends across a number of key parameters.

Findings from the 2017 data include:
  • A 69% decrease in Hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC) refrigerant gas emissions, showing the positive response to phase out and switch to a more environmentally-friendly bulk refrigerant by Irish Industry.
  • A 17% increase in 2017 in the recovery of hazardous waste within Ireland.
  • A 47 % increase (165,000 tonnes) in the quantity of hazardous waste sent abroad for recovery.

Patrick Geoghegan, EPA Senior Manager said: “The data on hazardous waste transfers indicates that the positive trend to send hazardous waste for recovery treatment, rather than disposal, continued in 2017. However, it also highlights that Ireland has not moved significantly towards self-sufficiency. A lack of domestic infrastructure and the often more favourable cost option of treatment and disposal abroad have meant that export continues to be a significant treatment route for Ireland’s hazardous waste.”

The pollutant release and transfer register provides greater transparency among stakeholders and incentivises industry to establish clean production techniques and pollution abatement equipment to reduce emissions.

The Irish Pollutant Register can be viewed HERE.


Packaging Recycling Levels – Further Measures Needed

New figures show that further measures will be needed to ensure that packaging recycling levels don’t stagnate.
Waste Recycling Station

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has today published information about waste packaging management in 2017. The figures indicate that the generation of waste packaging – including glass, paper, plastics and wood – remained high in 2017. In addition, while recycling rates were high for some waste streams, including glass and wood, recycling levels have levelled off over the last number of years.

Ms Mary Frances Rochford, (Programme Manager in the EPA’s Office of Environmental Sustainability), stated, “As a society we need to move to more sustainable consumption patterns which together can reduce waste, energy use and carbon emissions. The information published today shows that packaging waste continues to increase in line with economic growth. Of particular concern is both the level of plastic packaging in use and the fact that recycling rates appear to have plateaued in recent years, at around 34%.
Ireland needs a step change in waste packaging management. Our figures indicate that there are challenges ahead in meeting future EU targets and the ambition of the EU Plastics strategy. Preventing this waste in the first place will be an important component of Ireland’s response if we are to achieve our goals.”

Key Data:

Ireland generated over 1m tonnes of waste packaging in 2017.
Almost 217kg of waste packaging was generated per person, including 59kg of plastic packaging waste per person, a slight increase on 2016.
In 2017, 66% of waste packaging generated was recycled, exceeding the current EU target (55%) and the 2025 target (65%). The packaging recycling target for 2030 (70%) will be challenging but is achievable.
In 2017, 27% of waste packaging was plastic. Just over one third (34%) was recycled, exceeding the current EU target of 22.5%. This is, however, a long way short of future EU targets for 2025 (50%) and for 2030 (55%).
Recovery rates for plastics were at 78% – this includes both recycling and incineration.

Mr Stephen Treacy, (EPA Senior Scientist) stated, “The EPA’s recent waste characterisation study, looking at the contents of household and commercial bins, showed that up to one third of the contents of our general waste bins could be diverted to recycling with better separation and treatment. Improved separation and lower levels of contaminated waste will help improve recycling rates, which is needed to put Ireland on track for a circular economy.”

The EPA today also published 2017 figures for Ireland’s recycling and recovery of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) and end-of-life vehicles (ELVs). This information is now available on the EPA website where you can also view details of Ireland’s progress towards EU waste recycling, recovery and diversion targets.


Lowry Will Oppose Mercosur Deal

Tipperary TD Michael Lowry.

“The Mercosur deal which would allow Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Argentina to access EU markets is a bad deal for our Irish farmers”, Tipperary Independent Deputy Michael Lowry stated yesterday.

The Deputy continued, “This deal will result in what is estimated to be an extra 99,000 tonnes of beef emanating from these four South American countries, causing untold damage to our Irish beef farming sector”.

“I have already informed the Minister for Agriculture Mr Michael Creed that Ireland should not endorse this agreement in its present format. Although the EU has promised to protect food standards and environmental factors as part of the deal on imported beef, farmers here are already feeling uncertain about the fallout of a potential no Brexit deal”, he continued.

Deputy Lowry further stated, “We will need to see our Minister for Agriculture and our Taoiseach fight for the Irish beef farmers at EU level. How can we enforce a guarantee against the risk of undocumented and potentially infected animal breeds, should this deal be ratified. We must not overlook the issues regarding standards when it comes to beef coming from Brazil. Traditionally Brazil has been permitted to export its beef, despite standards not reflecting those of the EU.”

“The environmental impacts in terms of the carbon footprint used by exporting this amount of beef , as well as the problems associated with deforestation in Brazil, means that this deal, if ratified, is even more damaging to the environment than it is to our Irish beef sector. Brazil currently maintains record levels of deforestation”.

Concluding Deputy Lowry stated, “I do recognise that the Mercosur deal does potentially opens markets for Europe’s motor industry, financial services and telecommunications; signalling hugely beneficial opportunities. However, our Government needs to be mindful of the market disruption to our own agricultural sector, which will undoubtedly cause huge financial losses to our beef producers. Our rural communities are already at risk with falling beef prices, and the overall uncertainty of Brexit. Therefore, I have called on the Government to vehemently oppose the ratification of this Mercosur deal on behalf of farming communities in Tipperary and countrywide.


Borrisoleigh Festival Begins This Weekend

Borrisoleigh Festival July 4th to 7th 2019

The annual Borrisoleigh Festival returns again this weekend; bigger and better than ever before.
The festival is being run in tandem with “The Arty Rooster Arts Festival”, which runs for the entire week from 1st July.

Overall Winner of the 2018 Wheelbarrow Competition with her entry ‘The Dogbox’ is Kathleen Ryan (left) with her sister Margaret and mother Effie (RIP)

The growing “International Wheelbarrow Extravaganza”, promises some wonderful creations. The competition is open to everyone to submit their modified wheelbarrows to be in with a chance to win some great prizes. Your imagination is the only limiting factor in this unique competition.

The Arty Rooster‘ will feature shop-front exhibitions, workshops, demonstrations, talks and performances, including an oil painting demonstration by artist Jim Donnelly on Saturday morning and a short play written by Ciarnad Ryan. The play is based on events which took place during the War of Independence and will be performed on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday in the function room in Finn’s Bar. Follow ‘The Arty Rooster’ on Facebook for full schedule updates.

The annual walk with the Bush and Briar Ramblers takes place on Saturday July 6th, walking part of the Beara Breifne Way from Greenane to Latteragh. Registration is at 8.30am in the Community Centre.

Award winning photographer Tom Doherty will be hosting a photo walk, giving tips on how to take great photos on a walk around Borrisoleigh starting at 11:00am in The Square. This should prove useful to anyone planning on entering the festivals Instagram Competition. Be sure to use the hashtag #BorrisFest19 when posting festival photos on Instagram to be in with a chance to win some great prizes. After the Official Opening with Lord Mayor Paddy Dolan and special guest on Saturday, there will be a Jiving Competition and Social Dancing with ‘Phil Maher’s Band’. The band ‘Ebony’ will finish off the night; from 10:00pm to 12:00 midnight.

A fire performer will be thrilling spectators throughout Saturday night with a number of performances from 8:00pm and Hot Chocolate and Wraps will be available from ‘The Hungry Horse’.

Sunday 7th July has a packed schedule from 2:00pm with the ‘Wheelbarrow Extravaganza’, live music, kid’s entertainment and lots more. The individual wheelbarrow categories are: Best Environmental; Best Miniature Garden; and Most Imaginative.

Entries open on Sunday 7th July 2.00 – 4.30 p.m. No entry fees. This year there is a new ‘Commercial’ Category. Local businesses can showcase their business in a wheelbarrow in the centre of Borrisoleigh for the duration of the Festival. €10 advance entry fee. Wheelbarrows can be displayed from 1st July – 7th July. There will be a public vote for the best overall wheelbarrow on Sunday afternoon. Votes cost €1.00 each. So, take another glance at that old wheelbarrow in the corner of the garden, and imagine what an amazing spectacle it would make with a little bit of ingenuity and TLC. And don’t forget to use #BorrisFest19 when uploading your photos to Instagram!

At 2.30pm in the Community Centre there is a Make Up Demonstration with MUA Kayley Moylan, admission is €8. Kids entertainment will feature Bouncy Castles, Disco Dome, Gladiators, Gaming Van and Hawkeye Powershot Competition. There will be a BBQ in the village square also on Sunday evening and a Hobby horse competition from 6.30pm to 7.30pm.

Live music starts at 2:00pm on Sunday with DJ Matt Ryan and a host of wonderful performers throughout the day. Starting with Paudi Bourke at 4pm, Dufrane 4.30pm, The Mangled Badgers 6pm and finishing with Silver Dollar from 8pm until late.

All in all, it promises to be a terrific festival with something for everyone and all ages. Pick up a copy of the festival booklet in any local shops for full schedule of events and follow Borrisoleigh Festival on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for regular updates.


Local Authorities Failing To Enforce Repairs To Rural Septic Tanks

Malfunctioning septic tank systems are posing a risk to both people’s health and the environment, with nearly half of septic tank systems failing inspection in 2017 and 2018.

The EPA is responsible for the development of a National Inspection Plan for domestic waste water treatment systems. The current plan covers 2018-2021. Under the plan, local authorities are required to undertake a minimum of 1,000 inspections each year, distributed by risk across the country.

Domestic waste water treatment systems are used by rural householders to treat sewage. There are nearly half a million systems in Ireland and most (90%) are septic tanks.

Householders needs / must fix malfunctioning septic tank systems and the Government’s proposed expanded septic tank grant scheme is therefore welcome as part of addressing this serious issue.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) yesterday released a review of over 2,000 inspections of septic tanks and other domestic waste water treatment systems in 2017 and 2018. Nearly half of the systems failed inspection because they were not built or maintained properly. Faulty systems can contaminate household wells and pollute rivers. Householders should now avail of the proposed expanded grant scheme, when it becomes available, to address the problem of malfunctioning septic tanks.

Commenting on the report, Dr. Tom Ryan, Director of the EPA’s Office of Environmental Enforcement stated, “If you do not maintain your septic tank, it can contaminate your own or your neighbour’s well or your local stream, putting your health at risk and that of your family and neighbours. You can take simple steps to maintain your septic tank by making sure it is not leaking, ponding or discharging to ditches and by cleaning it out regularly.”

The report also found that nearly one third of systems that failed inspections during 2013-2018 are still not fixed. Local authorities need to take appropriate measures to ensure householders fix systems that fail the ongoing inspections.

Mr Noel Byrne, Senior Scientist in the EPA’s Office of Environmental Enforcement stated, “It is important that householders fix systems where problems are detected. To improve water quality, the government’s proposed expanded septic tank grant scheme, due to be launched later this year, will increase the maximum grant aid available to €5000 and remove the means test requirements.”

For further information: Contact Niamh Hatchell/ Emily Williamson, EPA Media Relations Office Tel: 053-9170770.

See “Inspections of Septic Tanks” HERE also