Construction & Demolition Waste Statistics for Ireland

EPA Waste Data Release, 22 September 2020

Latest Reference Year 2018

Key Trends

  • The quantity of construction and demolition (C&D) waste generated in Ireland increased to 6.2 million tonnes in 2018. This represents a large increase of 1.5 million tonnes on the quantity of C&D waste generated in 2017 (4.7 million tonnes), corresponding with an increase in construction activity nationally.
  • Like in 2017, soil and stones made up the large majority (77 per cent) of C&D waste collected in 2018. The next largest C&D waste types in 2018 were concrete, brick, tile and gypsum waste (12 per cent) and mixed C&D waste (seven per cent).
  • The vast majority (96 per cent) of C&D waste underwent final treatment in Ireland in 2018; only four per cent was exported abroad for final treatment.
  • Most of the C&D waste finally treated in Ireland (89 per cent) was backfilled in 2018, while only nine per cent of all C&D waste was recycled. The dominance of backfilling as a treatment operation reflects the large proportion of soil and stones in C&D waste. Recycling was the main treatment operation for the smaller fractions of metal, plastic, glass and wood.
  • Under the Waste Framework Directive (2008/98/EC) Member States must achieve 70 per cent of material recovery of non-hazardous, non-soil and stone C&D waste, by 2020. Ireland achieved 77 per cent material recovery in 2018.

C&D Waste Generation

Just over 6.2 million tonnes C&D waste were generated in Ireland in 2018.This represents an increase of 1.5 million tonnes on the 4.7 million tonnes of C&D waste generated in 2017. This increase in C&D waste corresponded with an increase in construction activity nationally. (Figure 1)

  Figure 1. Quantity of construction waste managed in Ireland, compared with CSO construction index (Source: EPA and CSO)

Figure 1 Quantity of construction waste managed in Ireland, compared with CSO construction index.

C&D Waste Composition

C&D waste is made up of many different materials. Most of the C&D waste collected in 2018 consisted of soil and stones (77 per cent) (Figure 2 and Table 1). The remainder was made up of concrete, bricks, tiles and gypsum waste (12 per cent) and mixed C&D waste (seven per cent). Only three per cent of C&D waste was collected separately as single material streams (wood, glass, plastic or metal).

As outlined on the Hazardous Waste webpage, 93,645 tonnes of hazardous contaminated soil was generated in Ireland in 2018.

Figure 2. Composition of C&D waste material collected in Ireland, 2018

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Open in Excel: C&D 2018 T1 (XLS 10KB)

C&D Waste Treatment

The vast majority (96 per cent) of C&D waste underwent final treatment in Ireland in 2018 and only four per cent was exported abroad for final treatment.

Most of the C&D waste undergoing final treatment in Ireland was recovered by backfilling (89 per cent), while only 9 per cent was recycled (Figure 3).

As outlined in our Hazardous Waste webpage, export was the main final treatment option for hazardous contaminated soil in 2018, with 80 per cent of hazardous soil exported for final treatment abroad.

Figure 3. Treatment of C&D waste material in Ireland, 2018

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Figure 4 and Table 2 show the final treatment operations carried out on different C&D waste streams in 20181. The prominence of backfilling as a final treatment operation reflects the high tonnages of waste soil and stones managed. Recycling was the main treatment operation for the smaller metal, plastic, glass and wood fractions of C&D waste, while disposal was mainly used for C&D waste treatment residues (Figure 4).

Recycling rates for C&D waste could be improved by greater segregation of C&D waste into individual material streams, either at source or at waste processing facilities.

Figure 4. Final Treatment of C&D Waste Streams, 2018

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C&D By-product notifications

Preventing waste and promoting reuse are integral to the circular economy. While this applies to all economic sectors, it is particularly relevant for the construction sector which handles large volumes of natural resources, such as soil and stone. Successful activation of the circular economy in this sector could see millions of tonnes of resources being beneficially reused every year.

Article 27 of the European Communities (Waste Directive) Regulations, 2011 allows an economic operator to decide, under certain circumstances, that a material is a by-product and not a waste. This provision is often invoked in connectionwith construction and demolition material. It allows materials to be used elsewhere in construction projects as a by-product and not discarded as a waste. Decisions made by economic operators under Article 27 must be notified to the EPA. The EPA may determine to agree with the economic operator’s decision, as notified; alternatively, after consultation with the economic operator and the relevant local authority, the EPA may determine that the notified material is waste.

In 2018, the EPA received by-product notifications for 6,251,396 tonnes of C&D material. Notifications for 2,605,878 tonnes were withdrawn. The EPA determined that 907,000 tonnes of the soil and stone notified were by-product, as notified. The estimated quantity of C&D material notified in 2018 for which no determination was made to date was 2,738,518 tonnes.

It is important to note that by-product notifications do not necessarily mean that the activities proceeded with the activities related to the by-product notifications. However, if they did proceed, the materials would not have entered the waste management network or be included in the 2018 C&D waste statistics data presented here.

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1EPA estimates of C&D waste collected and treated are based on different datasets. Waste collectors record waste as it enters the waste treatment network, whereas the final treatment data indicates what happens to waste at the end of its journey through the waste treatment network. This can lead to differences in waste classifications and quantities. Notwithstanding this, there was just a 0.5 per cent difference overall between the estimates of the total tonnage collected and the total tonnage finally treated in 2018.