EPA National Waste Report 2010- Ireland meets targets for most EU Directive requirements

Date released: Feb 29 2012

Waste generation continued to decrease in 2010 due to economic downturn and waste policies
Ireland meets targets for most EU Directive requirements
More stringent EU targets coming into effect from 2013 onwards will be more difficult to achieve

Ireland is well advanced in achieving most of the EU waste recovery and recycling targets, with the exception of end of life vehicle targets, according to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) National Waste Report 2010, released today.

The economic downturn is having a marked influence on municipal waste generation, which has decreased by 16 per cent since it peaked in 2007. The quantity of household waste collected for treatment fell by 5 per cent in spite of an increase in population.  The recovery rate for packaging waste increased to 74 per cent.

The main findings of the report were that in 2010:

  • Municipal waste generation fell by 3.6 per cent compared to 2009.
  • Household waste recovery increased by 11 per cent compared to 2009.
  • Household waste collected for treatment fell by 5 per cent and commercial waste collected fell by 12 per cent compared to 2009.
  • Municipal waste recycling achieved a rate of 38 per cent, a 3 per cent increase compared to 2009, and close to the EU27 norm of 40 per cent.
  • Ireland met its 2010 EU Landfill Directive target for diversion of biodegradable municipal waste from landfill.
  • A recovery rate of 74 per cent was achieved for packaging waste, exceeding the EU target of 60 per cent by 2011.
  • Ireland is failing to meet the End of Life Vehicle Directive targets for reuse, recovery and recycling of vehicles and their components.
  • 29 per cent of occupied houses do not participate in, or are not offered, a waste collection service.
  • At current fill rates, 15 of the 28 currently active municipal solid waste landfills in Ireland will close in the next three years. There is a remaining national landfill capacity of 12 years.
  • Use of waste as an energy fuel grew by 20 per cent from 2009 figures to 183,000 tonnes in 2010.

Commenting on the report’s findings, EPA Director General Laura Burke 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 2.9 million tonnes in 2010. The economic downturn is continuing to have a marked influence on waste generation, particularly in the commercial waste and construction & demolition waste streams. When the economy begins to improve, it is important that we decouple waste generation from economic growth.”

In relation to national recovery targets, Ms Burke went on to say:

“Ireland is also making good progress towards achieving its EU targets in areas such as packaging waste, waste electrical goods and batteries.   While Ireland has met its 2010 target for the diversion of biodegradable waste from landfill, the more stringent EU targets coming into effect in 2013 and 2016 under the Landfill Directive will be much harder to achieve and will require continued investment in the infrastructure needed to treat biodegradable waste.”

Priority actions identified in the EPA report were:

  • Policies and actions necessary to decouple waste growth from economic growth need to be implemented, with waste prevention at their core;
  • Continued support for resource efficiency and conservation initiatives in relation to waste, water and energy is required to deliver reduced costs for public and private enterprises and reduced impacts on the environment;
  • Diversion of very large quantities of food waste from landfill remains a key priority that must be addressed if Ireland is to comply with the Landfill Directive;
  • State policy to require householders to avail of a collection service will help address problems associated with large number of households not availing of such a service;
  • Action needs to be undertaken to improve the reuse, recovery and recycling rates for End of Life Vehicles to ensure that Ireland complies with the relevant EU targets.

Finally, commenting on the impact the new EU Waste Framework Directive is having Dr Jonathan Derham said:

“The new EU Waste Framework Directive 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 supports business sectors and households to break the link between economic growth and waste.  Through this programme the EPA is developing waste prevention strategies and building 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 2010 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. The objective of the National Waste Report  is to present the most up to date information available on waste generation and management in Ireland, as reported to the EPA, and report annually on municipal waste and also particular waste streams subject to Producer Responsibility Initiatives (e.g. packaging, waste electrical and electronic equipment, end of life vehicles), and also construction & demolition waste and hazardous wastes. The data collected for the National Waste Report series is used to report to the EU Commission on various legislative reporting obligations such as EU Directives (Packaging, WEEE, ELVs), the Waste Statistics Regulation (2150/2002/EC as amended) and other reporting obligations such as the annual Structural Indicator on Municipal Waste.
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 recovery rates in 2010

Note that Recovery means any operation the principal result of which is waste serving a useful purpose by replacing other materials which would otherwise have been used to fulfil a particular function, or waste being prepared to fulfil that function, in the plant or in the wider economy. Annex II of the Waste Framework Directive (2008/98/EC) sets out a non-exhaustive list of recovery operations, which includes material recovery (i.e. recycling), energy recovery (i.e. use a fuel (other than in direct incineration) or other means to generate energy) and biological recovery (e.g. composting).
Recycling means any recovery operation by which waste materials are reprocessed into products, materials or substances whether for the original or other purposes. It includes the reprocessing of organic material but does not include energy recovery and the reprocessing into materials that are to be used as fuels or for backfilling operations.

  • Household waste recovery rates increased from 29.5 per cent to 40.6 per cent of household waste managed. While satisfactory, there remains considerable distance to reduce the landfilling of household waste to the national target of 50 per cent by 2013.
  • Recovery of municipal waste increased from 39 per cent to 42 per cent.
  • On average, every resident in Ireland generated approx. 620 kg of municipal waste (compared to 660 kg in 2009).
  • Packaging waste recovery rate increased from 70 per cent to 74 per cent, and exceeds the EU recovery target of 60 per cent required by 2011.
  • The collection of 8 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. 45,012 tonnes of WEEE was collected in 2010 down from 45,327 tonnes collected in 2009.
  • 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 38 per cent) are approaching the EU average of 40 per cent.

      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 the EPA website.

      4. EU Waste Framework Directive

        The new EU Waste Framework Directive (2008/98/EC) came into effect in December 2010.