Date released: September 21, 2023
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has today published the latest National Municipal Waste Characterisation Project. The project results show very little change in Ireland’s household and commercial waste management practices since 2018. Irish businesses and householders are still putting the majority of their waste into the wrong bin. Over two thirds of waste in the general waste bins could have been placed in recycling and organic waste bin.
Food waste is the most common waste in commercial general waste bins (30 per cent) and household general waste bins (17 per cent). Thousands of households and businesses still do not have an organic waste bin and correct food waste segregation cannot be achieved until this is addressed.
Recyclable materials such as plastics, paper, cardboard and metal account for around 24 per cent of the household general waste bin and 37 per cent of the commercial general waste bin.
Urgent action is needed to improve Ireland’s segregation and recycling performance to achieve municipal recycling rate targets and transition to a circular economy. The waste industry needs to do more by providing organic waste bins to all households and commercial premises and support awareness campaigns to make segregation easier.
Commenting on the results, Micheál Lehane, Director of the EPA’s Office of Environmental Sustainability, said
“The results of the latest municipal waste characterisation are disappointing. Currently businesses and householders are putting recyclables, food waste and packaging waste into our general bins. This is a lost opportunity. Organic waste bins need to rolled out urgently to businesses and households without this service. Implementation of the new commercial waste regulations is needed without delay.”
Access to recycling infrastructure, such as civic amenity sites and bring banks, needs to be made easier for householders to support segregation of special, bulky and hazardous wastes.
The rollout of organic waste bins to houses, apartments, and commercial sectors needs be enforced to ensure waste collectors are providing the same level of service to customers.
Warren Phelan, Programme Manager of the EPA’s Circular Economy Programme noted:
“Our recycling targets and transition to a circular economy are currently off track. There are significant opportunities to divert recyclable materials from the general waste bin, but householders and the commercial sector need more support from the waste industry to make it easier to segregate their waste correctly. Targeted awareness campaigns on segregation and focused enforcement activities are also needed.”
Further information on what is in our household and commercial bins is available on the EPA Website.
Further information: Emily Williamson, EPA Media Relations Office: 053-91 70770 (24 hours) and firstname.lastname@example.org
Notes to Editor
The EPA carries out a national municipal waste characterisation project every four years. The aim of the project is to provide accurate up-to-date waste data on the nature and composition of Ireland’s kerbside municipal waste. This enables accurate waste statistics reporting and informs national waste and circular economy policy, infrastructure planning, and regulatory and enforcement activities.
Municipal waste is made up of household waste and commercial waste (e.g. household type waste from offices, shops, schools & hospitals).
Circular economy: A circular economy is one where materials, including packaging, are recirculated and used again and again, and waste is minimised. To facilitate the move to a more circular economy, the European Commission put forward a Circular Economy Package in December 2015, which includes revised legislative proposals on waste, as well as a comprehensive Action Plan. The Irish Government published a new national waste policy, A Waste Action Plan for a Circular Economy, in September 2021.
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.