Waste figures for 2009 show Ireland is well advanced towards achieving its EU waste objectives

Date released: Feb 08 2011

  • Ireland is currently on track to meet its EU Landfill Directive diversion target for biodegradable municipal waste for 2010.
  • A recovery rate of 70 per cent has been achieved for packaging waste, exceeding the EU target of 60 per cent by 2011.
  • Municipal waste recycling achieved a rate of 35 per cent, close to the EU27 norm of 40 per cent.
  • In 2009:
    • Municipal waste generation fell by 8.4 per cent.
    • Household waste generation fell by 3 per cent and commercial waste generation fell by 12 per cent. 
    • Construction and demolition waste decreased by 62 per cent.

Ireland is well advanced in achieving most of the EU waste recovery and recycling targets, according to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) National Waste Report 2009, released today.  However, the report urges continued efforts to divert biodegradable waste from landfill, improve the penetration of source separated waste collection services (3 bin), and prevent waste arisings from all sectors of society.
In 2009, municipal waste generation in Ireland fell by a further 8.4% following a 5% reduction the previous year. These changes are in line with reductions in GDP and personal consumption levels. The amount of biodegradable municipal waste landfilled fell by 11%, leaving Ireland within 143,000 tonnes of meeting its EU Landfill Directive diversion target for 2010.  Household waste generation fell by 3% in spite of an increase in population; 70% of packaging waste was recovered and there was a decrease of 62% in construction and demolition waste.

Commenting on the report’s findings, Ms Laura Burke, Director of the EPA’s Office of Climate Change, Licensing and Resource Use said,

“There has been a significant reduction in the amount of municipal waste generated in Ireland, from a peak of almost 3.4 million tonnes in 2007, to less than 3 million tonnes in 2009.  The economic downturn is having a marked effect on waste generation, particularly in the commercial waste and construction & demolition waste streams.  Ireland is also making good progress towards achieving its EU targets for packaging waste, waste electrical goods, the first objectives under the Landfill Directive and also objectives under the new Waste Framework Directive.

“While the reductions in waste generation and the improvements in recovery seen in 2009 are welcome, we must continue to focus on resource efficiency to ensure that when economic growth does return, it is not accompanied by a surge in waste generation.”

Significant progress has been made in managing municipal waste in Ireland and the report clearly shows that Ireland is expected to meet a key EU target for diverting biodegradable municipal waste from landfill in 2010. However, the targets for 2013 and 2016 will be more difficult to achieve. Urgent and sustained actions are required if Ireland is to meet these EU targets, including the further roll-out of source-segregated collections, recovery of organic waste and development of infrastructure for the pre-treatment of municipal waste prior to disposal.

The EPA has published guidance on municipal waste pre-treatment and has reviewed all the municipal waste landfill licences in Ireland to include appropriate pre-treatment licence conditions. This will greatly assist in Ireland’s compliance efforts with the Landfill Directive by restricting the amount of biodegradable municipal waste allowed to be landfilled.

However, further priority actions for biodegradable municipal waste management in Ireland are recommended in the report.  They include the need to:

  • Ensure there is adequate infrastructure to treat the very large quantities of organic (particularly food) waste that must be collected separately and diverted from landfill and also for the organic component of the mixed residual waste stream;
  • Develop outlets for the products of such treatment; 
  • Update and clarify national waste policy;
  • Promote food waste prevention through National Waste Prevention Programme initiatives;
  • Put in place services for the separate collection of organic (particularly food) waste at households and commercial premises in all local authority functional areas;
  • Improve penetration of educational material to households on the use of the third (organics) bin (e.g. www.foodwaste.ie) and,
  • Formulate and implement regulations/bye-laws that can be used to require the segregation and separate collection of food waste at household premises
    Ms Laura Burke commented:
    “The new EU Waste Framework Directive (2008/98/EC), which came into effect in December 2010, will be a significant influence and driver of change in waste management practices and governance in Ireland and elsewhere over the coming decade.  In line with EU objectives, the EPA’s National Waste Prevention Programme (www.nwpp.ie) focuses on breaking the link between economic growth and waste.  Through this programme the EPA is developing waste prevention and resource efficiency capacity in the areas of waste and water in particular.  Such actions can assist everyone, in households and businesses alike, to improve resource efficiency and significantly cut costs.”

    The National Waste Report 2009 is available on the EPA website. 

Notes to Editor:

  1. The National Waste Report
    The EPA’s National Waste Prevention Programme (NWPP) takes responsibility for producing national statistics on waste generation and management in the Republic of Ireland, including information on waste exports and imports. The objective of the National Waste Report (NWR) is to present the most up to date information available on waste generation and management in Ireland, as reported to the EPA. National waste statistics are prepared and published annually  as part of the NWPP . The waste data collected for the NWR is used to report to the EU Commission on various EU Directives (Packaging, WEEE, ELVs), the Waste Statistics Regulation (2150/2002/EC as amended) and the Basel Convention on the control of transboundary movements of hazardous wastes.The National Waste Report also presents an examination, and presentation, of the current status of Ireland’s waste management industry and progress towards national and international obligations. In addition the report presents analysis of recent national and EU developments that will assist operators, policy development and infrastructural planning. 
  2.  Overall recycling rates in 2009:
  • Household waste recovery rates increased from 26% to 29.5% of household waste managed. While satisfactory, there remains considerable distance to reduce the landfilling of household waste to the national target of 50% by 2013.
  • Recovery of municipal waste increased from 37.5% to 39%.
  • On average, every resident in Ireland generated 662 kg of municipal waste (compared to 729 Kg in 2008).
  • Packaging waste recovery rate increased from 65% to 70%, and exceeds the EU recovery target of 60% required by 2011.
  • The collection of 9 kg of household waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) per capita was more than double the EU target of 4 kg per capita per year. 45,327 tonnes of WEEE was collected down from 51,964 tonnes collected in 2008.
  • The UK remains the principal initial destination for Irish waste exported for recovery followed by China (principally paper & cardboard).
    Recycling (excluding energy recovery) rates for municipal waste in Ireland (at 35%) are approaching the EU average of 40%.

3.EPA National Waste Prevention Programme (NWPP): The NWPP commenced in 2004 at the request of the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government. The EPA leads and co-ordinates this Programme.   For more information see www.nwpp.ie .

Household waste recovery rates increased from 26% to 29.5% of household waste managed. While satisfactory, there remains considerable distance to reduce the landfilling of household waste to the national target of 50% by 2013.

1National Waste Reports for the years 1995, 1998 and all years from 2001–2008 are available to download at www.wastereport.ie.

  2More information at www.nwpp.ie.