‘CONTAMINATION within the recyclables’ was one of the reasons given for the withdrawal of a free paper, cardboard, and plastic recycling service at a bring site in Dunmanway.
Cllr Declan Hurley (Ind) put the matter on the agenda of last Monday’s meeting of the Western Committee as a means of lobbying the Council’s environmental department to reinstate the service.
However, a report prepared by the director of services for the environment, Louis Duffy, provoked an angry response from Dunmanway-native Cllr Joe Carroll (FF), who suggested that the director appeared to be ‘lecturing’ the people of Dunmanway as if they were stupid. A claim he repeated to The Southern Star afterwards.
Mr Duffy’s report on Cllr Hurley’s motion – a motion that called for the immediate reinstatement of the recycling services – contained nothing of the sort.
The director for environmental services informed the members that the Council had carried out a review of the additional services provided at Dunmanway and that a full report will be brought to the next Municipal District meeting.
He said the ‘dry recycling service’ at Dunmanway had operated on a system of three slotted skips – one each for newspapers and plastic bottles, with the third being used for mixed card and light plastics.
The facility is within a secure, locked compound and a general operative from the Council’s roads section unlocks and locks the gates morning and evening, Monday to Friday, but, otherwise, it is unsupervised.
Mr Duffy said the service provider – the company employed to collect the waste – had sent several notifications regarding serious contamination within the recyclables.
‘For example,’ Mr Duffy said, ‘they found dirty nappies stuffed into cornflakes boxes, bags of fire ashes, bags of domestic waste, vegetable peelings, etc.’
The service provider estimated an approximate 15% contamination level.
However, Mr Duffy did explain: ‘One bag of dirty waste can contaminate all the materials it comes in contact with and therefore the workload involved in separating the materials is greatly increased.’
The director pointed out that the Dunmanway service costs approximately €49,000 per annum for less than 200 tonnes per annum of material taken in, much of which is contaminated.
And that the company is reluctant to resume operations at the unsupervised site.
Cllr Declan Hurley informed the director that he would continue to raise the issue at both West Cork Municipal District meetings, as well as meetings of the Western Committee, until the service is fully restored.
Another local, Cllr Deirdre Kelly (FF), called for the reopening of the paper, cardboard and plastic facility in Dunmanway without delay.
She said: ‘Many people in the community have been left without a service whilst this review is taking place.’
Mr Duffy’s report pointed out that Cork County Council operates an extensive network of 11 Civic Amenity Sites and 121 bring sites for community waste recycling across the County, a figure that includes 29 sites in West Cork.
Because the bring sites at Skibbereen and Kinsale are manned, he said, they are able to provide ‘an enhanced service with additional materials being accepted.’
But both of these involve customer payment at the point of entry to offset additional costs.
Mr Duffy asked that it also be noted that the introduction of Covid-19 health protection restrictions ‘forced us to suspend the additional services from these sites temporarily.’