Date released: November 27, 2023
28th November 2023: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has today published the Circular Economy and Waste Statistics Highlights Report 2021. Ireland’s waste generation levels are continuing to rise and Ireland is failing to make sufficient inroads towards key EU recycling targets that apply from 2025 onwards.
The report shows:
Continued high levels of waste generation coupled with stagnating recycling rates mean that it is now very unlikely that Ireland will meet mandatory EU recycling targets for municipal, plastic packaging and total packaging.
David Flynn, Director of the EPA’s Office of Environmental Sustainability, said:
“We continue to throw away far too much, wasting valuable materials. We live on a resource-finite planet and resource extraction causes greenhouse gas emissions, biodiversity loss and water stress. To reduce these impacts, we must accelerate our transition from a linear economy to a circular, more resource-efficient economy. Right now, we need to focus on avoiding waste. That means reusing construction waste materials where possible, becoming better at segregating our municipal waste and vastly improving the recycling of packaging materials.”
Ireland remains heavily reliant on export for the treatment of several key waste streams in 2021. 38 per cent of municipal waste was exported for treatment in 2021, including 382,000 tonnes of residual waste exported for energy recovery through incineration. 69 per cent of packaging waste was exported for treatment.
Commenting on the findings from the report Warren Phelan, Programme Manager of the EPA’s Circular Economy Programme said:
“Ireland is overly reliant on the export of waste for treatment and we are vulnerable to shocks and changes in international markets. We do not have enough facilities for the treatment of non-hazardous and hazardous waste which are missed opportunities to capture the energy and economic value of these wastes.”
To address this Ireland needs to:
Contact: Emily Williamson, EPA Media Relations Office, 053-9170770 (24 hours) or email@example.com.
Note to Editors: The EPA compiles official statistics on waste generation and treatment in Ireland. These are used for reporting on Ireland’s performance in meeting its legal obligations, for policy and waste management planning purposes and to inform the general public. Data are compiled through surveys of waste operators and administrative data sources, in cooperation with other public authorities.
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.
Municipal Waste is the waste we all produce every day in our homes, offices, businesses and schools. It includes household and non-household (commercial) waste.
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 that 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 include 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.