Household Waste Statistics for Ireland

EPA Waste Data Release, April 2020 

Latest reference year, 2017

Household waste includes residual waste, recyclable waste and organic waste collected directly from households and waste brought by householders to waste collection centres such as bring banks, civic amenity sites, pay to use compactors and landfills. 

Ireland generated approximately 1,539,710 tonnes (t) of household waste in 2017; 1,495,210 t of household waste was managed and an estimated 44,500 t was unmanaged.‌

This data release presents key statistics on the generation and management of Irish household waste in 2017. The accompanying Household Waste Infographic highlights the key household waste facts, trends and what you can do to reduce household waste generation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Figure 1: Irish household waste, 2010 - 2017

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Key Statistics

  • 1,459,210 t of managed household waste was produced in Ireland in 2017. This is a three per cent increase since 2016 (refer to the Figure 1 above). Managed waste is waste that is collected from households or brought to waste collection centres.   
  • The EPA estimates that a further 44,500 t of household waste was unmanaged in 2017. Unmanaged waste is waste that is not collected from households or brought to waste collection centres and is therefore likely to cause pollution in the environment because it is fly tipped or disposed of through backyard burning. 
  • Each household in Ireland produced an average of 907 kg of household waste in 2017; and an average of 321 kg of household waste was produced per capita (compared with 314 kg per person in 2016).
  • Most of the waste (44 per cent) from households was placed in the residual waste (black) bin. This waste was generally incinerated for energy recovery or landfilled. 
  • The amount of residual waste could be reduced by over 50 per cent if households used the correct bin or collection centre for recyclable, organic or hazardous waste1.
  • Over 30 per cent of the waste placed in household recycling (green) bins was not recyclable and should have been placed in the residual (black) or organic (brown) waste bins to reduce cross - contamination of recyclables. 
  • Irish households put approximately 253,000 t of food waste into household bins in 2017.  
  • Organic waste placed in household brown bins was generally composted, or anaerobically digested to make biogas in 2017. However, most household organic waste (over 60 per cent) was placed in the residual (black) or recycling (green) bins and was therefore not recycled. 

 

Additional Data

More data on the amount of waste collected from households or brought to waste collection centres within each local authority area are presented in Figure 2 and Table 1 below.

There are significant variations between counties across Ireland in the overall quantity of household waste collected per person, as well as differences in the amount of waste collected by bin type (see Figure 2 and Table 1). While further analysis into these trends will be undertaken, variations are likely to be linked with differences in the waste collection services and infrastructure provided (e.g. prevalence of 2-bin versus 3-bin systems in rural versus urban areas), large variations between counties in the share of the population using authorised waste collectors (as shown in Figure 2), and behavioural factors (such as bin sharing).

 

 Bin waste collected from Irish households (per capita), 2017

 

Future Focus

As discussed in Ireland's Waste Story, our focus for the future needs to be on achieving a circular economy and waste prevention so we can make the most of our resources while protecting the environment. 

Improperly segregated household waste results in the cross - contamination of recyclables and inefficient waste management. Due to the nature of residual household waste, it is difficult to segregate recyclables once they are placed in the residual waste bin; and therefore most of Ireland’s household waste continues to be incinerated or landfilled. The brown bin roll out to households has increased the composting rate of organic waste. However, the majority of Ireland’s organic waste, including food waste, is not composted as it is placed in the wrong bin. 

If Ireland is to meet the EU municipal waste recycling target of 55% in 2025 and eventually achieve a circular economy, we need to do more to support householders to use bins and waste collection centres correctly. Food waste produces 8 to 10 per cent of all global carbon emissions. To conserve our natural resources and reduce greenhouse gases, we must generate less waste through the promotion of reuse and sustainable consumption initiatives such as stop food waste

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1The statistics on improperly segregated household waste were calculated by applying the results of the EPA 2018 Waste Characterisation Study to the tonnage of household waste managed in 2017