Green bin waste returned from Rotterdam due to contamination
Some 160 containers were en route to China when discovery was made
When waste is collected from households it is sorted and assessed by waste management companies
An investigation is under way after 160 containers of green bin waste from the Republic were stopped in Rotterdam en route to China due to contamination.
In a statement it said the containers were detained by Dutch authorities in November and December 2016.
The Dutch human environment and transport inspectorate consented to the reprocessing of 53 of the detained containers at a facility in the Netherlands. The rest of the detained containers were returned to the Republic earlier this year.
Under the current system householders are required to pay for waste disposal in black and brown bins by weight, but waste dumped in green bins is free of charge.
When waste is collected from households it is sorted and assessed by waste management companies. It is then transported to the NTFSO in containers for shipment, which carries out spot checks to test for contamination.
It is understood that in this case the 160 contaminated containers evaded detection in the Republic before being discovered in Rotterdam.
When the containers were originally exported, they were declared as containing waste paper and cardboard. Upon their return to Ireland the containers were opened and their contents examined by officers from the NTFSO.
The material in the returned containers consisted of mixed paper, cardboard, plastic and some non-paper materials. Under EU legislation this mixture of material is required to follow a different export procedure.
The Department of Environment said the issue with the containers was “a consequence of the presence of a percentage of non-paper materials in the containers”.
“The co-mingled recycling bin can be contaminated with non-recyclable items due to a number of factors, including awareness of what can or cannot be recycled on behalf of the household customer,” it said.
The department also said it had allocated funding of €1.6 million in 2017 towards a national waste campaign which would be developed and rolled out by the regional waste management planning offices.
“The campaign will be environmentally driven, and will focus on increasing the prevention and segregation of waste. It will support householders to increase their recycling rates, and assist them in avoiding the contamination of recyclate and organic waste.”