Municipal Waste Statistics for Ireland

EPA Waste Data Release, 20 December 2017

Latest Reference Year 2014

Municipal waste recovery increased from 59% to 79% between 2012 and 2014 due to the increase in municipal residual waste used as a fuel.

Municipal waste recycling was 41% in 2014 compared to 40% in 2012.

MSW arriving and being picked for initial sorting

Municipal waste recycled, used as a fuel and disposed to landfill (ktonnes), 2010, 2012 and 2014

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Key Trends

Municipal waste is household as well as commercial and other waste that because of its nature or composition is similar to household waste. Municipal waste includes residual waste, dry recyclables (glass, plastic, paper & board, metals), food and garden waste, bulky waste, waste electrical and electronic equipment and batteries. Municipal sludges and effluents are not included in scope.

  • 2,575 kilotonnes of municipal waste was managed in 2014 (4% increase compared to 2012).
  • 79% of managed municipal waste was recovered (59% in 2012). Recovery includes treatment processes such as recycling, use as a fuel (incineration and co-incineration) and backfilling.
  • 41% of managed municipal waste was recycled (40% in 2012). Recycling includes reprocessing of waste materials into products, composting and anaerobic digestion.
  • 21% of managed municipal waste was disposed (41% in 2012).

Municipal residual waste treatment has undergone significant change in Ireland in recent years, with less disposed to landfill and more sent for use as a fuel. This reflects a similar trend across EU Member States.

The future focus for municipal waste treatment will be to prevent it arising (with a particular focus on food waste), increase preparation for reuse (e.g. waste electrical and electronic equipment) and increase recycling. Ireland’s recycling rate didn’t change significantly between 2012 and 2014. With more challenging recycling rates proposed under the Circular Economy Package, Ireland will need initiatives and policies to improve municipal recycling rates.  

Municipal waste managed (ktonnes), 2007 to 2014

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Open in Excel: Table 1 Municipal waste generated, managed and treatment 2012, 2014 (XLS 11KB)
Open in Excel: Table 2 Municipal waste generated by origin and by type of waste, 2014 (XLS 9KB)
Open in Excel: Table 3 Municipal waste managed 2007 to 2014 (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)