Hazardous waste: prevention, and self-sufficiency for treatment and management remain key priorities for Ireland

Date released: Oct 18 2018

Hazardous waste:  prevention, and self-sufficiency for treatment and management remain key priorities for Ireland

October 18 2018: The EPA has today released a progress report on the implementation of the National Hazardous Waste Management Plan (NHWMP) 2014-2020. The report shows that Ireland is making good progress on managing hazardous waste. However, a stronger focus on hazardous waste prevention is required and the development of appropriate infrastructure to allow Ireland to become more self-sufficient in the treatment and management of its hazardous waste.

Mary Frances Rochford, Programme Manager in the Office of Environmental Sustainability said,

“Prevention is a key objective of the National Hazardous Waste Management Plan which promotes the reduction in the generation of hazardous waste. This remains a priority for continued action. Where hazardous waste does arise, it must be managed correctly to ensure the protection of human health and the environment.  People have an important role to play to reduce the risks posed by hazardous waste, for example, through developing greater self-awareness around the purchase and use of less hazardous substances in the home”.

Key achievements in national hazardous waste management to date include:

  • 9,000 farmers used 46 collection centres in a pilot Farm Hazardous Waste Scheme and brought 1,000 tonnes of hazardous wastes for collection; 
  • A coordinated approach to one-day collections for household hazardous waste was introduced by the three Regional Waste Management Offices. The most common item collected was waste paint. 
  • Guidance for the management of household hazardous waste at civic amenity sites was published. It was developed in cooperation with the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) and established standards for the acceptance and safe storage of the wide range of hazardous waste streams.

Priority actions for the remaining lifetime of the plan (up to 2020) include:

  • Focused engagement with a diverse range of stakeholders to ensure hazardous waste prevention remains a priority;
  • Promotion of Ireland’s self-sufficiency goals regarding the treatment and management of hazardous waste;
  • Continued development of hazardous waste collection infrastructure for small scale hazardous waste from households and small businesses.

Ireland has moved towards greater self-sufficiency regarding hazardous waste management since the publication of the last National Hazardous Waste Management Plan. However, the often more favourable cost option of treatment and disposal abroad has meant that export continues to be a significant treatment route for Ireland’s hazardous wastes.

Patrick Geoghegan, EPA Senior Manager, said:

“Striving for more self-sufficiency nationally in the management of Ireland’s hazardous waste is a guiding principal behind many of the Plan’s recommendations.  The Plan includes an ambition to minimise exports where it is environmentally preferable, and feasible from a technical and economic point of view.”

A copy of the revised National Hazardous Waste Management Plan (2014-2020) can be accessed from the EPA website at www.epa.ie/waste/hazardous.  Related links are listed below.

Notes to Editor:

  1. National Hazardous Waste Management Plan:

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is responsible for developing the National Hazardous Waste Management Plan under Section 26 of the Waste Management Act 1996 as amended.  The first such Plan was published in 2001 and was replaced by a second Plan published in 2008. This current plan is a revision of the National Hazardous Waste Management Plan 2008-2012 and covers the period 2014-2020.

The priorities and actions in the Plan are centred on administrative arrangements, prevention, collection of hazardous waste, infrastructure and self-sufficiency, regulatory measures, legacy issues, North-South initiatives, guidance & awareness and Plan implementation.

The following is a summary of the Plan recommendations:

Prevention projects to reduce the generation of hazardous waste in certain priority sectors (biopharmachem, agriculture, healthcare & households) should continue to be led by the EPA under the National Waste Prevention Programme. Prevention initiatives are incorporated into Regional Waste Management Plans; legislation such as Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) and Registration Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACh) provides for the substitution and reduction in use of hazardous substances in materials and products.

Since 2015, the Department of Communication, Climate Action and Environment has administered a grant scheme enabling Local Authorities to provide one-day collections for small-scale quantities of hazardous waste. The scheme is facilitated through the three Regional Waste Management Offices and is linked in to an objective of the 2015-2021 Regional Waste Management Plans to ensure better segregation of hazardous wastes at the point of collection from households and small businesses.  The potential for producer responsibility obligations for several hazardous waste streams continues to be a consideration. The recent Waste Framework Directive amendment 2018/851/EC requires all Member States to set up a separate collection for hazardous waste fractions produced by households by 1st January 2025.

The often more favourable cost option of treatment and disposal abroad has meant that export continues to be a significant treatment route for Ireland’s hazardous wastes. If Ireland were to become more self-sufficient, suitable hazardous waste treatment options would be required. 

The Department of Communication, Climate Action and Environment continues to keep the legislative framework under review and regulations continue to be consolidated where it is practical and feasible to so do.

Legacy issues
Old waste disposal sites, especially those that to a significant extent may have involved the disposal of hazardous waste, should continue to be managed (i.e. identified, risk assessed and regularised) in accordance with the EPA’s Code of Practice and relevant legislation, where required.

North-South cooperation
The North South Ministerial Council meets in the Environment Sector to make decisions on common policies and approaches in a cross-border context in areas such as environmental protection, pollution, water quality management and waste management and is an effective forum to address waste management issues of mutual concern.

Policy makers, regulators, product producers, importers, generators and holders of hazardous waste all play a vital role in ensuring that the generation of such materials is minimised, and the materials are collected and treated correctly in accordance with the waste hierarchy.

Each of the 27 recommendations in the revised Plan has a responsible body or bodies identified. The principal implementation and monitoring bodies for the revised Plan are the Department of Communication, Climate Action and Environment, the EPA and local authorities, each with distinctive roles and responsibilities.  

For the period 2018-2020, the EPA, in collaboration with stakeholders, will continue to pursue outstanding recommendations where possible. Along with this report, any additional information gathered will be used to inform the development of the next Plan, due to commence in 2020. It is envisaged that a draft replacement Plan will be developed early in 2021 for public consultation in line with the Waste Framework Directive and associated Irish Regulation.

2. Related links:

Householders’ guidance and information:

Greener gardening guide
Greener cleaning at home guide
Paint squirrel 
Greener DIY
Householders’ Guide to Hazardous Waste Prevention 
Backyard burning animation

Waste statistics information


Further information: Annette Cahalane/ Emily Williamson, EPA Media Relations Office 053-9170770 (24 hours) or media@epa.ie