Household Waste Statistics for Ireland

EPA Waste Data Release, June 2020 

Latest reference year, 2018

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 1.571 million tonnes (t) of household waste in 2018; 1.524 million t of household waste was managed and an estimated 47,307 t was unmanaged.‌

This data release presents key statistics on the generation and management of Irish household waste in 2018. The Household Waste Infographic for 2017 data highlights the key household waste facts, trends and what you can do to reduce household waste generation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Figure 1: Irish household waste, 2010 - 2018

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Key Statistics

  • 1.524 million t of household waste was managed in Ireland in 2018. This is a two per cent increase since 2017 (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 47,307 t of household waste was unmanaged in 2018. Unmanaged waste is waste that is not collected 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. 
  • The majority of household waste managed in Ireland in 2018 was collected at kerbside (70 per cent), with smaller quantities collected via civic amenity sites, skips and bring banks.
  • The quantity of household waste managed in Ireland in 2018 equates to 314 kilogrammes per person, up from 312 kg/person in 2017 and 305 kg/person in 2016.  The latest data indicate that household waste generation in Ireland continues to be closely linked with disposable income, lifestyle and consumption patterns.
  • The quantity of household waste generated (i.e. managed & unmanaged) in Ireland in 2018 equates to 324 kilogrammes per person, up from 321 kg/person in 2017 and 314 kg/person in 2016.
  • Almost half (44 per cent) of all waste collected from households was placed in the residual waste (black) bin in 2018 (676,000 t). Residual waste in Ireland is generally incinerated for energy recovery or landfilled.
  • Almost 250,000 t or 17 per cent of household waste was collected in the recycling (green) bin in 2018. Previous EPA waste characterisation studies have shown over 30 per cent of waste place in household recycling bins was not recyclable and belongs in the residual waste or organic bin.
  • Organic waste collected in the brown bin accounted for 9 per cent of all household waste managed in 2018 (137,032 t), the same proportion as in 2017. When properly segregated, this organic waste gets composted or anaerobically digested to make biogas.  However, only 43 per cent of Irish households have access to a brown bin. EPA studies have shown that most household organic waste (over 60 per cent) continues to be placed in the residual or recycling bins and therefore not recycled. 

 

Additional Data

More data on the amount of waste collected from households or brought to waste collection centres within regions and local authority areas are presented in Table 1 and the Figure 2 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 vs. 3-bin systems in rural vs. 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), 2018

 

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. The rising trend in household waste correlates with Central Statistics Office data on personal consumption of goods and services, both of which have shown an upward trend since 2012 (see Figure 3 below).  These data indicate that household waste generation in Ireland continues to be closely linked with lifestyle and consumption patterns. 

 Household Waste & Good and Services consumption 2010-2018

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, still only 43 per cent of Irish households have access to a brown bin. As a result, the majority of Ireland’s organic waste, including food waste, is not yet being recycled. New EU waste legislation means that the provision of brown bins will be mandatory as part of a waste collection service for households in Ireland by the end of 2023.

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

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1 The 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.

 

 

Open in Excel: Table 1 Household Waste Collected and Brought, 2018 (XLS 39KB)