O'Rourke hits out at council failure to back recycled posters initiative

A plan to recycle election posters, which had been devised by a local councillor, has fallen through, after Westmeath County Council declined to row in with the proposal.

Cllr Aengus O'Rourke had announced, before the recent local elections, that he had negotiated an arrangement for posters to be shipped back to the main manufacturer of corriboard in Ireland, Enplast Limited in Longford, to be ground down to pellet form and recycled.

The idea was subsequently agreed by local councillors.

However, Cllr O'Rourke this week confirmed that Westmeath County Council had opted not to back the idea.

"It is more and more the case that the local authority tends to find plenty of reasons not to embrace change. Health and safety is the greatest excuse under the sun to run away from a good idea and to avoid having to take on a new task. It now seems that my proposal to have all of our election posters recycled, will now end up on the scrap heap.

"The two simple tasks I was asking Westmeath County Council to agree to were; (i) to provide a collection point for all candidates' posters and (ii) to transport them to Longford where they would be ground down (free of charge) and recycled for use in the construction industry.

"This proposal feeds perfectly into our obligations under the circular economy concept. A circular economy aims to sustainably reuse materials through reuse, repurposing, recycling and remanufacturing.

"Closing the loop as a circular economy reduces the amount of materials we extract from our lands and seas. It adds value to materials many times over, creates economic value and conserves scarce natural resources. Resources are valued and products are designed for their durability, repairability, and recyclability.

"Westmeath County Council have refused to run with my circular economy proposal for two reasons; (i) Health and Safety grounds and (ii) they are not willing to cover the cost to send a truck 35 miles to Longford.

"The Health & Safety concerns seem to be that the council don't like the idea of various people arriving at one council yard location to drop off the posters. They feel that this could potentially lead to an accident.

"Clearly I am very unhappy with the council's approach to this good idea which was agreed by all councillors at a recent meeting of the council."

He said this "shortsightedness" meant the new council was off to a very bad start in its new term.

"I hadn't expected fireworks at our first meeting, but so be it," he said.