Composting and Anaerobic Digestion

EPA Waste Data Release, 14 March 2018

Reference Year 2016

This release reports information on composting and anaerobic digestion in 2016 at commercial facilities that accepted biodegradable waste generated in Ireland. The figures do not include (i) home composting estimates (ii) facilities where only waste generated on-site was treated on-site and (iii) waste imported to Ireland for treatment.

The quantity of biodegradable municipal waste sent for composting and anaerobic digestion increased by 19 per cent between 2015 and 2016 (from 194 ktonnes to 231 ktonnes). The food waste regulations (commercial and household) have had a positive impact on increasing the quantity of municipal waste accepted for composting/anaerobic digestion.

Municipal waste accepted for composting/anaerobic digestion, 2005 - 2016

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Key Trends

  • Composting was the dominant treatment activity (79 per cent of tonnage accepted).
  • The quantity of waste generated in Ireland and accepted for treatment at composting and anaerobic digestion plants in Ireland and abroad increased from 308 ktonnes in 2015 to 353 ktonnes in 2016 (15 per cent increase).
  • Municipal waste (kitchen and canteen food waste, garden and park green waste, edible oils & fats) was main source of waste accepted (65 per cent of total accepted).
  • The quantity of municipal waste accepted for treatment has risen from 194 ktonnes in 2015 to 231 ktonnes in 2016 (19 per cent increase).
  • The quantity of brown bin waste accepted for treatment rose from 143 ktonnes in 2015 to 174 ktonnes in 2016 (22 per cent increase) reflecting implementation of the Commercial and Household Food Waste Regulations. Waste collectors reported that approx. 640,000 households were provided with an organic bin kerbside collection service in 2016 compared to 572,000 in 2015.
  • Commercial brown bin waste is primarily food waste, while household brown bins can contain garden waste as well as food waste, depending on the waste collector.
  • There is an increasing trend of brown bin waste collected in Ireland being exported to Northern Ireland for recovery (4 ktonnes in 2013, 31 ktonnes in 2015 and 56 ktonnes in 2016. In 2016, 32 per cent of the total quantity of brown bin waste accepted at composting and anaerobic digestion facilities was accepted at Northern Ireland facilities.
  • There was a five-fold increase in edible oil and fats waste accepted for treatment between 2015 (1 ktonne) and 2016 (5 ktonnes).
  • There was an increase in wastes from agriculture and food preparation and processing industries from 52 ktonnes in 2015 to 85 ktonnes in 2016.
  • Products of composting and anaerobic digestion were used in horticulture, landscaping and agricultural land treatment.

Biostabilised organic fines

In 2016, five composting facilities biostabilised organic fines arising from the mechanical treatment of residual waste. Biostabilised residual waste has been treated to achieve an EPA approved biodegradability stability standard prior to use as landfill cover or alternative agreed use. There was a significant increase in the quantity of organic fines accepted for biostabilisation between 2013 (50 ktonnes) and 2014 (100 ktonnes but the quantity accepted has levelled out somewhat with 119 ktonnes accepted in 2015 and 122 ktonnes accepted in 2016.

Open in Excel: Table 1 Facilities surveyed, 2016 (XLS 12KB)
Open in Excel: Table 2 Waste types accepted, 2013 to 2016 (XLS 12KB)
Open in Excel: Table 3 Organic fines accepted for biostabilisation, 2013 to 2016 (XLS 9KB)