Every local authority is obliged to have a waste management plan and in this plan it must state how it intends to handle waste generated by its area. Although the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government has overall responsibility for recycling and waste management in Ireland, this responsibility has been devolved to the local authorities.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) acts as the watchdog for the waste management industry. It is responsible for ensuring that local authorities carry out their environmental protection functions. If the EPA thinks a local authority is failing to carry out these functions properly, it can request a report from the local authority and give advice, make recommendations and offer whatever help it considers necessary on the basis of that report. If the local authority fails to act on these recommendations, the EPA can direct it to resolve the situation and, as a last resort, can deal with the situation as it sees fit and recover the costs from the local authority in question.
Waste management and recycling targets were set by the Department of the Environment and Local Government in its 1998 policy document 'Changing Our Ways'. While there are no specific obligations on local authorities in terms of what recycling services they should provide, it is generally understood that they must provide bring banks, civic amenity centres, composting services or kerbside collection if they are to have any hope of meeting these targets set out in the Department's policy document.
Waste management plans are financed by local authority budgets but there is also a capital grant scheme in operation which is funded by the State and the EU. The first phase makes 127 million euro available to local authorities to put in place an adequate waste management and recycling infrastructure.
Local authorities are obliged to consult with the public in relation to waste management planning in their areas. Under the Waste Management Act, 1996, there must be a formal public consultation before the drafting of a waste management plan. All applications for waste licences are advertised and are available to the public and any member of the public can lodge an objection to the granting of a licence with the EPA.
The Directive aims to:
- reduce the waste arising from electrical and electronic equipment; and
- improve the environmental performance of all those involved in the life cycle of electrical and electronic products.
The Directive covers WEEE used by consumers and for professional purposes.
- Private householders will be able to return their WEEE to collection facilities free of charge;
- Producers (manufacturers, sellers, distributors) will be responsible for taking back and recycling electrical and electronic equipment.
- Producers will be required to achieve a series of demanding recycling and recovery targets for different categories of appliance