First Look

EPA Waste Data Release - 1 February 2021 for reference period to Q4 2020

In this section we present trend data that are available in a more timely fashion than our complete, validated datasets, which are produced to meet legislative requirements. The data can be from administrative data sources, or they may represent a subset of EPA waste statistics data that, due to reduced scope, can be validated more quickly than the full survey. Initially we present data relating to waste accepted at landfills, municipal waste incinerators and cement kilns, helping to provide policy makers and other stakeholders with an early indication of when capacity issues may arise. This section will continue to be expanded over time to include other datasets of particular relevance to our national users.


  • The quarterly tonnage of municipal waste accepted at landfill decreased during 2017, then increased to quarter three in 2018, to drop in quarter four of 2018 and level out. There was a slight downward trend from quarter one to quarter four of 2019. Between quarter four of 2019 and quarter three of 2020, the tonnage of municipal waste accepted at landfill increased slightly. In quarter four of 2020 the tonnage of municipal waste accepted at landfill decreased. (Figure 1).


  • Energy was recovered from more than 222,000 tonnes of municipal waste (excluding waste imported from abroad) through incineration or co-incineration at municipal waste incinerators or cement kilns in Ireland in quarter four of 2020.


  • Five landfills accepted municipal waste in 2017 and 2018. This number declined to three in quarter four of 2019 and remained at three in quarter four of 2020.


  • Waste accepted at landfill rose between 2013 and 2016 but dropped in 2017 before increasing again in 2018 and 2019.


  • Most of the waste accepted at landfill between 2013 and 2019 was construction and demolition waste; this waste was mainly recovered (ie used for engineering purposes or similar) rather than sent for disposal (Figure 2).


  • The increase in waste accepted at landfill in 2018 was due to an increase in construction and demolition waste sent to landfill for recovery.


  • The municipal waste stream dropped from 684,000 tonnes in 2017 to 410,000 tonnes in 2018 and declined again to 374,000 tonnes in 2019.


  • The construction and demolition waste stream has increased from 975,000 tonnes in 2017 to 1,700,000 in 2019. Note that the previous figure recorded on the First Look Tab for construction and demolition waste in 2018 was 800,000. This figure has since been revised to 1,300,000 tonnes.

Waste accepted at landfill

Landfills (municipal and inert) report annual information on municipal, construction and demolition, and industrial/other waste they accept and dispose of or recover. In addition, they also submit quarterly data on municipal waste they accept. Please note that the quarterly data are collected specifically to report on the diversion of biodegradable municipal waste (BMW) from landfill, which is required by the Landfill Directive (1999/31/EC). The criteria relevant for municipal waste under BMW reporting do not always align with those used for waste statistics. This can lead to differences in tonnages reported under the two regimes.

In quarter four of 2020, more than 76,000 tonnes of municipal waste were accepted at Irish landfills.

Figure 1: Municipal waste accepted at landfill

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Figure 2: Waste recovery and disposal at landfill

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Energy recovery from waste incineration in Ireland

Energy recovery as a municipal waste treatment option has become increasingly available over the last decade. This effected a reduction of municipal waste disposal to landfill in Ireland. In 2016, more than 800,000 tonnes of Irish municipal waste were used for energy recovery, and half of this tonnage was treated at municipal waste incinerators or cement kilns located in Ireland. These figures underline the important role energy recovery at Irish facilities plays in connection with municipal waste management. To provide early indications of trends regarding this waste treatment option, EPA now compiles quarterly estimates of the amount of municipal waste that underwent energy recovery at municipal waste incinerators or cement kilns in Ireland.

In quarter four of 2020, over 239,000 tonnes of waste (excluding waste imported from abroad) were used for energy recovery through incineration or co-incineration in Ireland. Approximately 222,000 tonnes of this waste originated from municipal sources (Figure 3).

Figure 3: Waste to energy recovery through incineration or co-incineration

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Open in Excel: 8-Table 1. EPA_FL_2021Jan_Ref2020_4_Quarterly municipal accepted (XLS 9KB)
Open in Excel: 9-Table 2. EPA_FV_2021Jan_Ref2019_Recovery and disposal (XLS 11KB)