Continued good progress on waste recycling, but landfilling remains high

Date released: Jan 11 2007

The Environmental Protection Agency’s National Waste Report 2005 reports that during 2005:

  • Just under 35 per cent of municipal waste was recovered.
  • 23 per cent of household waste was recycled, an increase for the fourth consecutive year.
  • 77 per cent of household waste was landfilled.
  • 60 per cent of packaging waste was recovered, comfortably exceeding the EU target set for 2005.
  • Waste generation remains high, highlighting the need for concerted action to focus on waste prevention in   Irish society.

Ireland’s recycling rates remain on track to meet national and EU waste recycling targets. To all intents and purposes, at 34.6 per cent, the national target of 35 per cent recycling was achieved well in advance of the 2013 target date. The amount of waste going to landfill remains persistently high however. This is according to the National Waste Report 2005 published today by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Dr Gerry Byrne, EPA Programme Manager said,

“The diversion of waste from landfill is the most important challenge in managing Ireland’s waste today. Recycling is up across the board, but the landfilling of waste is also increasing, reflecting an overall increase in waste generation and material consumption in Irish society and business.”



Household waste:

Recycling of household waste increased to 23 per cent in 2005. The national target is to divert 50 per cent of household waste from landfill by 2013. Continued effort is needed to increase household recycling rates in the medium term.

The number of bring banks for the collection of recyclable household waste increased to 1,937 and civic amenity facilities to 81, an increase of 8 per cent in the overall number of facilities. Use of these facilities increased by 12 per cent and 25 per cent respectively.

The kerbside collection of mixed household recyclables increased by 49 per cent in 2005, illustrating the importance of making recycling convenient and easy for every householder.

The landfilling of household waste decreased for the fourth year running, to 77 per cent in 2005, down 1.7 per cent from 2004.

Packaging Waste:

A packaging waste recovery rate of 60 per cent was recorded for 2005.  This means that the EU target of 50 per cent packaging waste recovery by 2005 has been comfortably achieved.

Though recycling remains high, disposal of packaging waste to landfill is also relatively high. This highlights the need to reduce overall packaging waste generation through waste minimisation projects.

Dr Byrne said,

“The EPA has developed a packaging waste minimisation programme with Repak to be launched early in 2007. This programme will create new momentum to reduce the use of packaging in the first place.”


Uncollected household waste:

The report highlights that 24 per cent of Irish households have either no access to collection services or choose not to avail of them.  This results in an estimated 202,940 tonnes of “uncollected” household waste.  Considerable work is being done by local authorities to gain an understanding of how this waste is managed.

Dr Gerry Byrne said,

“The collection of household waste remains an important public service on public health and environmental grounds. Although 48 per cent of household waste is collected by private sector operators, local authorities should continue to take reasonable steps to ensure that all householders are provided with, and use, a waste collection service.”


Biodegradable municipal waste:

Progress in diverting biodegradable municipal waste (such as food, garden waste, wood, paper, cardboard and textiles) from landfill was relatively slow in 2005, particularly with regard to food and garden waste. Biodegradable waste causes considerable management problems in landfills, including the generation of methane (a greenhouse gas), leachate and the attraction of vermin. The Government published the National Strategy on Biodegradable Waste in 2006 to address this issue.

Dr Byrne commented,

“The National Strategy on Biodegradable Waste sets out the timetable and means for diverting considerable quantities of biodegradable waste from landfill over the next 10-15 years. Given the importance of diverting this waste from landfill in order to meet national and EU targets, it is crucial that the strategy be implemented on schedule.”


Construction and demolition waste:

Construction and demolition waste has increased to almost 15 million tonnes (up from 11 million tonnes in the previous year). A recycling rate of 87 per cent was reported by the waste management industry - however, when soil and stones are excluded, this recycling rate drops to 43 per cent.

Dr Gerry Byrne said,

“The initiative is now with the construction sector to implement national guidelines on waste monitoring at the site level, thus improving the quality of information and providing contractors with on-site information to plan effectively for waste prevention and recycling.”


Export of municipal waste for recycling:

Despite significantly increased collection of recyclable material, less waste was actually recycled in Ireland in 2005 (234,696 tonnes) than in 2004 (315,628 tonnes). In 2005, 83 per cent of Irish waste recycling took place abroad, compared to 74 per cent in 2004.

The report, entitled National Waste Report 2004