Ireland is facing a waste-management crisis as China refuses to take our plastic and paper. Can we improve our environmental standards, as the EU urges more recycling? Kim Bielenberg reports on what really happens to our rubbish.
Trash talk: a year in recycling
- 1 million tonnes of packaging waste is generated in Ireland every year
- €700 value of wasted food per person
- 1 million tonnes of food is wasted
- 61kg of plastic thrown out per person
- 282,000 tonnes of plastic packaging produced per year
- 160,000 tonnes of plastic incinerated as alternative fuel
- 34% of plastic waste is recycled
- 55% EU plastic recycling target (2030)
- 88% of glass is recycled
- 30% of green bin waste is in the wrong bin
- 40,000 tonnes of waste tyres every year
- 95% of Irish recyclable plastic went to China in 2016
- 8 million tonnes of plastic dumped in the sea around the world per year
It only takes one visit to a recycling plant in Dublin to realise that we are not a nation that likes to comply with any kind of rules.
At the Thorntons plant in Cherry Orchard in Dublin, workers wearing face masks and gloves have the unenviable task of sorting through the contents of our green bins – and it is not a pretty sight to behold on a cold February morning.
Judging by what householders put in them, these bins are often only green in name.
As the conveyor belts carry the trash at remarkable speed up and down through the hangar-like shed, workers pick out a baffling variety of non-recyclable detritus.
Source: Irish Independent