Composting and Anaerobic Digestion in Ireland

EPA Waste Data Release, 3 May 2016

Latest Reference Year 2015

The quantity of biodegradable municipal waste sent for composting and anaerobic digestion increased by 23 per cent between 2013 and 2015 (from 158,000 tonnes to 194,000 tonnes). The commercial food waste regulations and the household food waste regulations 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 - 2015

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Key Trends

This release reports information on composting and anaerobic digestion in 2015 at commercial facilities that accept 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 for treatment.

  • The quantity of waste accepted for treatment at composting and anaerobic digestion plants increased from 271 ktonnes in 2013 to 300 ktonnes in 2015 (11% increase).
  • Composting was the dominant treatment activity (>80% of tonnage accepted).
  • Municipal waste (kitchen and canteen food waste, garden and park green waste, edible oils & fats) was main source of waste accepted (65%).
  • Municipal waste mainly comprises the brown bin collections at households and commercial premises. Commercial brown bin waste is primarily food waste, while household brown bins also contain a small quantity of garden waste (approx. 10%). The quantity of brown bin waste accepted rose with 114 ktonnes in 2013 and 143 ktonnes in 2015 (25% increase) reflecting implementation of Food Waste Regulations. In 2015, 39% accepted was from commercial sources and 61% from household sources.
  • The quantity of municipal waste accepted for treatment has risen from 158 ktonnes in 2013 to 194 ktonnes in 2015 (23% increase).
  • There was a 34% increase in garden and park waste accepted for treatment between 2013 (35 ktonnes) and 2015 (47 ktonnes).
  • After municipal waste, sludges from urban waste water treatment plants and wastes from the production of beverages are the other dominant sources of waste accepted.
  • While there was an increase in most waste streams accepted for treatment, there was a decrease in wastes from agriculture and food preparation and processing industries.
  • There is an increasing trend of brown bin waste collected in Ireland being exported to Northern Ireland for recovery. Four ktonnes of waste was exported in 2013 (Source: National TransFrontier Shipment Office), 31 ktonnes in 2015 (eight-fold increase and 22% of the total quantity of brown bin waste accepted at composting and anaerobic digestion facilities in 2015).
  • Products of composting and anaerobic digestion were used in horticulture, landscaping and agricultural land treatment.


Sources of waste treated in 2015

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Biostabilised organic fines

In 2015, five composting facilities produced biostabilised residual waste from 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.

Open in Excel: Table 1 Facilities surveyed (XLS 13KB)
Open in Excel: Table 2 Waste types accepted for treatment (XLS 12KB)