Municipal Waste Statistics for Ireland

EPA Waste Data Release, 31 October 2018

Latest Reference Year 2016

Municipal waste is made up of household waste and some commercial waste that is similar to household waste.  The EPA reports data on how much municipal waste is generated and how it is treated.  In 2016, Ireland generated 2,763,166 tonnes (t) of municipal waste and recycled 41% of this.  

MSW arriving and being picked for initial sorting

Municipal waste recycled, used as a fuel and disposed to landfill (ktonnes), 2010 to 2016

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Key Trends

Municipal Waste includes these waste streams 

Residual or black bin waste e.g. waste that cannot be recycled

Recyclable or green bin waste e.g. glass, plastic, paper & board, metals

Organic or brown bin waste e.g. food and garden waste

Bulky waste e.g. waste that cannot fit in a wheelie bin such as broken furniture, carpets, toys etc. 

WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment)

 

The EPA reports on municipal waste generation and treatment methods

Generated – Ireland produced 2,763,166 t of municipal waste in 2016, this is a six percent increase since 2014.  This means that each person living in Ireland generated 580kg of municipal waste in 2016 

Managed – Waste collected and treated by the waste industry. In 2016, a total of 2,718,298 t of municipal waste was managed

Unmanaged –Waste that is not collected or brought to a waste facility and is therefore likely to cause pollution in the environment because it is burned, buried or dumped.  The EPA estimates that 44,868 t was unmanaged in 2016

Recovered – the amount of waste recycled, used as a fuel in incinerators, or used to cover landfilled waste.  In 2016, almost three quarters (74%) of municipal waste was recovered, this is a decrease from 79% in 2014 

Recycled – the waste broken down and used to make new items.  Recycling also includes the breakdown of food and garden waste to make compost.   The recycling rate in 2016 was 41%, the same as 2014

Disposed – the waste landfilled or burned in incinerators without energy recovery.  Just over a quarter (26%) of municipal waste was landfilled in 2016

 

Future Focus

Municipal waste generation in 2016 rose in line with economic growth.  The future focus must now be on prevention of waste generation, increase preparation for reuse (e.g. waste electrical and electronic equipment) and increase recycling.

Ireland’s recycling rate has not changed significantly between 2012 and 2016. There are more challenging recycling rates proposed under the Circular Economy Package, so Ireland will need initiatives and policies to improve municipal recycling rates.  

The EPA uses guidance on municipal waste data collection, which is available on the Eurostat website (the European Union’s statistical Office), to compile municipal waste data. 

Municipal waste managed (ktonnes), 2007 to 2016

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Open in Excel: Table 1 Municipal waste generated, managed and treated in 2012 to 2016 (XLS 11KB)
Open in Excel: Table 2 Municipal waste generated by origin and by type in 2016 (XLS 9KB)
Open in Excel: Table 3 Municipal waste managed 2007 to 2016 (XLS 10KB)

Biodegradable municipal waste disposed to landfill

EPA Waste Data Release, 15 March 2018

Latest Reference Year 2017

Biodegradable municipal waste (BMW) comprises those elements of the municipal waste streams that will rot or degrade biologically, for example food waste, garden & parks waste and paper & cardboard. Under the Landfill Directive (1999/31/EC) there are targets for the diversion of BMW from disposal to landfill. Diversion of BMW from landfill will assist mitigation of odour nuisance, reduce the aftercare burden for landfills and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The quantity of BMW disposed to landfill in 2017 was 307 ktonnes, compared to 390 ktonnes in 2016 (27 per cent decrease).

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Key Trends

  • Ireland has met all Landfill Directive targets for diversion of BMW from disposal to landfill to date.
  • Five landfills accepted municipal waste for disposal in 2017 compared to twenty-five in 2010.
  • The tonnage of BMW disposed to landfill decreased year on year up to 2014 but increased in 2015 and again in 2016. In 2016 the amount of municipal waste exported for waste-to-energy recovery decreased and this resulted in an increase in municipal waste disposed to landfill.
  • A second municipal incineration plant came into operation in Q2 2017 and this additional waste-to-energy capacity has resulted in a decrease in municipal residual waste disposed to landfill.
  • It is very important that there is adequate treatment infrastructure in the State to manage the increasing diversion from landfill of biodegradable waste and that recovery of waste is favoured over disposal, in line with the EU waste hierarchy.

BMW quantity disposed to landfill compared to Landfill Directive limits, 2010 to 2020

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Open in Excel: Table 1 BMW quantity disposed to landfill, 2013 to 2017 (XLS 12KB)