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About midday at the council’s bring centre in Grangegorman on Thursday, Marie Dunne was dropping off a big bag of recycling.

Sometimes, she has more than she can fit in her green bin, she says, so she pops around to this nearby centre, in a courtyard next to the old stone Clock Tower building, to leave the excess.

In containers arranged around the edges of the courtyard, people can leave paper, cans, cardboard, batteries, glass, textiles, plastics, small waste from electrical and electronic equipment, light bulbs, oil and more – to be properly disposed of.

Dunne was dismayed to hear that this bring centre might be closing soon, with no replacement yet sorted out.

“Why would they close a centre where people are coming every day?” she says. “If they want us to recycle, they should put something on our doorstep.”

The closure could push car owners to drive further to recycle, costing them more in fuel and time, producing more air pollution and carbon emissions, and contributing to traffic congestion.

For the many in this area without cars, it might mean they simply recycle less, local councillors say.

There’s been a plan for years to close this bring centre, councillors say, so council managers should have found a replacement location for it by now.

A spokesperson for Dublin City Council said it is trying to delay the closure until a new location for it can be found.

Closing Time

The Grangegorman bring centre is on land owned by TU Dublin that’s being developed by the state’s Grangegorman Development Agency, a GDA spokesperson said.

The bring centre was always intended to be temporary, the spokesperson said. “The Grangegorman Masterplan sets out the overall plan for the site and this has been in place since 2008. The existing Bring Centre is not included in these plans.”

After all these years, the reason the GDA needs the council to give up the spot this year is so that it can bring in workers to stabilise the historic Clock Tower building adjoining it, she said.

The old stone building with the clock on top was originally opened in 1816 as the Richmond Penitentiary, according to the GDA. It’s on the council’s record of protected structures.

The council ordered the GDA to do emergency works to keep the Clock Tower building from becoming “endangered”, the spokesperson said. The GDA last year appointed a contractor to do “stabilisation works” on it.

“A large portion of these works was carried in 2022 to the satisfaction of DCC but due to the operations of the Bring Centre directly adjacent, essential stabilisation works to the north gable of the Protected Structure could not be progressed at that time,” she said.

To get to that part of the building, workers will need to use the plot the bring centre is on right next to it, the spokesperson said.

How long has the council had known that the bring centre was going to be closed? A spokesperson pointed to a meeting between the council’s Waste Management Services and the GDA in January.

At the meeting, they discussed the timeline for the closure “and were advised that it is likely to be in the latter half of 2023”, the spokesperson said. They asked the GDA to delay the closure, they said.

So while one arm of the council is pushing the GDA to do works on the Clock Tower building, for which it says it needs access to the bring centre site, another arm is asking the GDA to delay the closure of the bring centre.

The Grangegorman bring centre (left) and Clock Tower building (right). Photo by Sam Tranum. Credit: Sam Tranum

“In the meantime, Waste Management Services will continue to seek an alternative location that can accommodate all waste streams that are currently being provided at the GDA site,” the council spokesperson said.

“However, it will be challenging to provide a fully operational new facility by the end of 2023 should the existing bring centre have to close,” they said.

Said Fine Gael Councillor Ray McAdam: “In typical city council fashion they have left it to the last possible minute to try to find an alternative location.”

What If?

A council spokesperson said the council “recognises the importance of providing local services to the city’s residents”.

Indeed, the council’s Dublin City Development Plan 2022–28, its vision for the development of the city, says “Dublin will be a socially inclusive city of urban neighbourhoods based on the principle of the 15-minute city.”

“The 15-minute city concept envisages that within 15 minutes on foot or bike from where they live, that people should have the ability to access most of their daily needs,” it says.

If the bring centre closes before a replacement site is found, “we would hope that residents would continue to recycle responsibly by availing of existing local services such as glass and textile banks located at several sites in the immediate surrounds,” the spokesperson said – and to put paper, cardboard and plastic in their green bins.

“It would however be necessary to transport garden waste, small household WEEE [waste from electrical and electronic equipment], batteries and bulbs to an alternative recycling centre via car,” they said.

As Dunne sees it, if the Grangegorman centre is closed without a local replacement, she’ll have to travel a few kilometres at least. “I’d have to go to Blanchardstown or North Strand”, she said on Thursday.

The next closest centres to the Grangegorman bring centre are 3km away at the North Strand recycling centre, and 5km at the Collins Avenue bring centre. The Coolmine recycling centre out Blanchardstown way is 12km.

There is also the big new north-side council depot that’s due to open in Ballymun later this year, the council spokesperson said. It is meant to serve as a base for hundreds of council employees to work from, and it is also supposed to host a recycling centre.

The new depot in Ballyumun is about 8km from the Grangegorman centre.

Pushing car owners to drive further would mean more traffic, more air pollution, and more carbon emissions. All contrary to the council’s and the central government’s climate action goals, says independent Councillor Nial Ring.

“It’d be an absolute retrograde step to close this centre without having a replacement in the area,” he said.

Aside from the impacts on the climate, environment and people’s wallets of pushing people to drive further to recycle, the closure of the bring centre could discourage some people from recycling as much.

In the Dublin Central Dáil constituency – which includes Grangegorman and surrounding areas – at least 47 percent of households don’t have cars, according to 2016 data from the Central Statistics Office.

What should they do, asks McAdam, the Fine Gael councillor. “Are you asking people to get a taxi or a bus with their bag of recycling to go to another centre?”

Dublin City Council’s Climate Action Plan, 2019–2024 says “Part of reducing waste is encouraging people to recycle. DCC is planning to maintain and promote the availability of recycling infrastructure, such as bring centres, across the City.”

Other Homes

Along with the effort by the council’s Waste Management Services to delay the closure of the bring centre there are efforts underway to find it a new home.

“The GDA is currently exploring potential interim solutions to partially relocate facilities elsewhere on the Grangegorman site,” the GDA spokesperson said.

But existing plans for the Grangegorman site and the need for bring centres to be away from residential properties means it is proving difficult, they said. “And it is clear that it will not be possible to relocate the full Bring Centre on site.”

The council is looking for an alternative site too. And McAdam, the Fine Gael councillor, says he thinks he’s found a good new spot for it.

There’s a vacant council-owned site at the corner of Infirmary Road and Montpelier Hill in Stoneybatter. Plans to build council homes on part of that site have been in the works since at least 2016.

However, that plan doesn’t involve the whole site, McAdam says. The former Infirmary building is “proposed for refurbishment and repurposing to Community use”, the council spokesperson said.

It’ll probably be vacant for a while still though, McAdam says. “There’s certainly a number of years where a bring centre could be located there,” he says.

The council spokesperson said a design team was appointed earlier this year to refurbish the old Infirmary building, and the council hopes a planning application will be submitted by early 2024 and development will start later that year.

“In the context of the above, the extent of such facility [a bring centre] would have to be fully understood so as to avoid obstructing the works next year,” they said.

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1 Comment

  1. Wouldn’t more bring sites at shopping locations make sense .. more onus on producers and sellers to receive their packaging and more emphasis on circular economy needed

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