Each year in Ireland we produce an incredible
3 million tonnes of household waste.
Most of it still ends up in landfill, creating huge environmental problems
and only 22% of this domestic waste gets recycled.
Clearly this is an unsustainable situation
and one that the EPA and Local Authorities are anxious to rectify.
The EU Landfill Directive requires each Member State
to produce a strategy on biodegradable waste.
It also sets targets for diverting biodegradable municipal waste
from landfill by 2010, 2013 and 2016.
If Ireland doesn't meet these targets
we face potential fines of up to half a million Euro per day
so we have a huge task ahead of us.
At this sorting centre in Dungarvan
the EPA is conducting a waste characterisation survey
to evaluate the type and amount of waste
we are throwing into our black bins, much of which could be recycled.
We actually go out with the bin truck
and we go along a normal collection day;
we take it all back to the depot here
where we take a small subsample of that waste.
We put it up on the tables and we sort through it.
We take out all the paper and put them into the buckets that are marked paper,
if it's plastic packaging it goes into one bucket
if it's non packaging it goes into another bucket.
And we weigh all these buckets
and eventually what we do is we get a total weight for the sample
and then we know how much of each type of waste,
so the percentage that was aluminium,
the percentage that was packaging.
And at the end of that we get a result that is representative of the national sample.
Armed with this information, the EPA can work out
what quantity of recyclable material ends up in landfill.
It does tell us a bit more about the different types of waste in the black bin.
So it helps us identify areas to focus on, like organic waste.
By measuring it at regular intervals we can tell if it's increasing or decreasing.
And if any kind of the initiatives that have been implemented
are actually having any kind of impact.
Tell us about the results of your survey here today.
Are you finding a change since say 4 years ago?
There was an increase in packaging waste between 2005 and 1998 from 25% to 28%.
We also had an increase in terms of biodegradable waste.
The EPA conducts these surveys all over the country and it's not just black bins.
Dry recyclable bin and food waste bin material is also broken down
to get a clearer picture of what people are throwing away.
What we actually do is we survey each bin separately
so one week we come along, we survey the recycling waste.
This week we are looking at black bin waste
and then we would also look at their brown bin waste as well
and that gives us a representative sample.
We apply the different fractions to the total waste
to tell us the amount on a national level.
Getting rid of organic waste is one of our biggest challenges
and 2 years ago Dublin City Council decided
to introduce brown bins for this type of material.
All organic waste including all food and garden waste can go into these bins.
So far over 60,000 bins have been rolled out in pilot areas
and Dublin City Council hopes to double that figure by late Spring 2009.
Up until the brown bin was rolled out
all of the material would have going into your black bin
and so now with the brown bin the collections are every fortnight
so you have the potential to leave out your black bin one week
and your brown bin the following week.
The brown bin, Duncan, as you can see is a 140 litre in size,
compared to the green bin which would be a 240 litre
or the black bin which is also a 240 litre in size.
So it's much smaller but it's on wheels the same way.
It's on wheels, it's the same height as such but it's slightly narrower.
All householders also receive a small kitchen caddy
similar to this one here.
I've one under my sink at home.
Yes. Material is fine to be left in your kitchen caddy for maybe 2 to 3 days
and it saves people going in and out to the brown bin which would be outside.
It's very handy like that isn't it?
It's very handy.
And also you have the option then of using a compostable bag.
So a standard biodegradable bag is not a good idea?
It's not a good idea,
it won't break down in the composting process within the 6 week period.
Do these brown bins cause any smells or vermin?
Well as you can see there are ventilation holes
along this side and the other side as well
and this will allow air to circulate in the bin, it will dry out the material
and it is then not a very attractive environment for maggots and flies to breathe.
And also it will take away water vapour
and this limits the formation of gas which would lead then to odours.
To ensure against odours, bluebottles or maggots
meat and cooked food should be wrapped in newspaper
or placed in a compostable bag.
Despite some initial hesitation Dublin householders have now
enthusiastically embraced the brown bin scheme.
Billy McLean from Swords has been using his brown bin for a year now.
Well we used to have to throw all our waste into the black bin
you would get smells with that which
funny enough it doesn't happen with the brown bin.
So all the waste now that you generate in the kitchen
like say preparing food or all the waste maybe after a meal
does that all now go into your brown bin?
Oh, it certainly does and we keep the brown bin here underneath the sink here.
The small bin is it?
Yes this is the small bin as you can see here
a little lid on it here to keep the smells away if there was any smells
and all our waste goes into that.
You don't use a liner for it
like one of these recyclable liner bags?
I don't, no. All I use is a little piece of newspaper in the bottom
that is sufficient.
How often now would you take this out?
Brown bin goes out once every two weeks whether it's full or not.
Fine from the waste in the house
you know you're not going to fill it in two weeks
but certainly if you add the garden waste
especially during the summer when you have all the grass cuttings.
Is that when you've got the most? -That's when we have the most yes.
So that must be saving you quite a bit of money too
Saving us a lot of money Duncan,
well the black bin is costing us €8 every time you put it out.
We used to have to put that out once a week
now we'd only have to put it out once every 4 weeks.
But more important: I think we are doing our bit for the environment.
The introduction of a brown bin collection
in some neighbourhoods of Dublin City over the past year
has undoubtedly been a great success for householders.
Prior to this, all of their organic waste ended up in landfill
creating smells, leachate, attracting vermin
and emitting methane, a highly potent greenhouse gas.
Now a third of their waste is diverted from landfill
and this food and garden waste is now converted into a very valuable resource.
This indoor composting facility at Kilmainhamwood in North Meath
is where Dublin's organic waste ends up.
The material is shredded before being placed in these bays
where it begins its aerobic decomposition process.
We have to control the moisture content of the material for composting
it should be in the range of about 60, 65%.
Temperature is very important. The process is thermophilic
which means that microbes work in the temperature range
of 48 to 60 degrees Celsius.
This is controlled by aerating composting bays,
in order to supply oxygen to the microbes
which they will feed from the food waste and brown bin
which will generate heat which will keep the bays at their correct temperature.
If you look at the outside of the composting bays
you will see white filamentous bacteria called actinomycetes
or simple fungi as well.
These are the same decomposers that biologically breakdown and decay
deadwood in the forest.
After 3 weeks in the composting bays the material is screened.
Once we finish screening we have our 12 mm compost material
which goes on to be our end product.
After that then there is about 3% of plastics and waste material
that comes out at the end of the screen.
The plastic is our highest contaminant
and it is mainly made up of conventional plastic bags and wrapping
that people maybe used to collect their garden waste
and then they'll throw it into the brown bin.
Finally it's pasteurised at specific high temperatures
in controlled tunnels over time to ensure
no contaminants make it through to the final product
which means it must comply with the Department of Agriculture Regulations
and is EPA licensed.
This is the product Duncan, our finished product
that we bagged for Dublin City Council.
As you can see it's nice.
Very nice - that's good stuff.
That's first class organic.
Good for gardens and houses.
Mix that now for gardens and soils about 2 to 1 ratio mix,
it provides all the macro and micro nutrients for plant growth, lovely material.
That material is made in 8 to 10 weeks.
The bags of compost are available in 4 recycling centres around Dublin;
here at Rathmines, Collins Avenue, Newtown Industrial Estate and Crumlin.
This material is a nutrient-rich compost
it's different from a peat based compost so it can be used in your garden
and there are instructions on the back of the bag
of how you would mix it with your own soil type at home.
Brown bins have now been rolled out in 5 Local Authorities across Ireland
including here in Dungarvan Co. Waterford.
The brown bin itself which we introduced a number of years ago,
maybe 4 years ago,
it's taken away on a three weekly collection to an organic processing facility
where it is turned into Grade A compost.
So everybody is aware of the various issues that are out there
on the environmental front
and I think people do see the benefits of the brown bin waste
going off to a composting facility.
You've got all the advantages
on one side you're not producing all this harmful greenhouse gas
and the other side then that food waste is being converted into compost
for gardening and all the other benefits that come with that.
It's clear organic waste is a potential resource
that can be turned into high value end uses such as biogas.
The Dublin Authorities are now developing this.
However the real challenge to us now
is to reduce the amount of food waste we produce in the first place.
0:00:00 / 0:00:00