Unbelievable response to recycling
Continuing our series, David Looby goes behind the scenes at Wexford's huge recycling operation while Brendan Keane reports on a project aimed at turning Enniscorthy into a flagship town for sustainability
'Busier than ever' was how a senior official at Wexford County Council described activity levels at the county's four recycling centres, which handled 2,410.526 tonnes of recycled items last year.
Peter Byrne, a waste disposal senior services supervisor with the council's environment section, said Greenstar recycle most of the recyclable items brought to Wexford County Council's bring centres in Enniscorthy, Holmestown, Hewittsland, New Ross and Gorey Business Park.
Last year 90,000 customers went through the gates of the centres, down 50,000 on 2017 and Mr Byrne attributes this to the fact a €2 charge was introduced that year.
'We got some grief from customers because of the charge and also because we could no longer recycle hard plastics like large toys and garden furniture. This was because the company taking our plastic decided they wouldn't take it anymore. People are coming less often but they are bringing bigger loads. We might be down a few tonne but it's not a huge amount to the extent that we're saying we shouldn't have introduced the charge.'
He said everything with a Recyclable symbol on it can be recycled, while it its free to recycle 'anything with a plug or a battery'.
The total tonnage of recyclable items brought to the county's four recycling centres in 2014 was 2007.611 compared to 2410.526 last year, when figures were close to what they were in 2016 prior to the €2 charge at the barrier being introduced.
Mr Byrne said there is no entry charge for customers bringing only waste electrical or electronic (W.E.E.E.) goods and County Wexford is the fourth best in the country at recycling W.E.E.E. goods.
He said Greenstar recycle cardboard, plastic, scrap metal, oil filters TetraPak and engine oil for the council.
'Our waste oil goes to others; our newspapers make bedding for animals.'
Mr Byrne said there is a company in Drinagh Business Park which has recycling banks in a lot of the county's schools.
It costs around €90,000 per year to run Enniscorthy Recycling Centre, €90,000 to run Gorey Recycling Centre; €120,000 to run Holmestown and around €80,000 to run New Ross.
A mattress and suite of furniture amnesty drop off is currently happening at the bring centres, with queues on the first day.
'In the first day we doubled the amount of stuff we took in during the entire amnesty last year. There were queues of cars all the way in to our centres. It has been unbelievable! We would have done it in the past for paints and medicines as well and we did the mattress amnesty last year top. It all helps and gives people the opportunity to get rid of stuff and gives us the opportunity of collecting items which might end up dumped elsewhere.'
The following are the differences in volumes of recycling at New Ross recycling centre, for example, comparing 2014 with 2018: Cardboard (2014: 92,790/2018 106,440); W.E.E.E.. & Mobiles: (2014: 167,314 - 2018: 203,207); Plastic: (2014: 74420 - 2018: 51420); Newspaper: (2014: 51700 - 2018: 13,149); Scrap Metal: (2014: 54950 - 2018: 156,750); Oil filters: (2014: 720 - 2018: 480); Textile: (2014: 17650 - 2018: 9720); Glass: (2014: 83910 - 2018: 53140); TetraPak: (2014: 3880 - 4880); engine Oil: (2014: 3464 - 2018: 2510); Magazines: (2014: 43276 - 2018: 55280); Aluminium Cans: (2014: 3300 - 2018: 2320); Books: (2014: 14712 - 2018: 0); Compost material 2018: 57815.
The total number of cans collected at bring centres across Co Wexford in 2014 was 76 tonnes, the same as in 2018, while the amount of glass collected increased from 2735 tones in 2014 to 3135 tonnes last year.
Mr Byrne said the tonnage of glass collected at the county's numerous bring centres is likely to increase significantly this year. He said people across Co Wexford have become more conscious of biodiversity and more educated about the importance of recycling and reusing materials. This includes up-cycling furniture and using reusable coffee cups.
The council used to collect to donate up to 15,000 books a year to Oxfam but the charity no longer wants them so they are shredded.
People are increasingly bringing food waste to the four centres, Mr Byrne said, adding that people also bring numerous other items with them getting value for money for their €2 entrance fee into the county's four recycling centres. He said green waste (including hedge cuttings and grass) can be brought to Holmestown.