Consumer behaviours

How we as consumers behave affects the quantity and types of waste we generate and how these wastes are managed. Examining the waste collected provides important insights into the amounts and types of waste presented for management, whether the waste was deposited in the correct bin and the extent of contamination of the recyclables.

The latest national municipal waste characterisation study (published in 2018) found that 11% of material in household bins should not have been put there at all (WEEE, batteries, textiles, paint) and that the recycling bin had higher levels of contamination and non-target materials than 10 years previously. Even more starkly, 70% of waste presented in the commercial residual bin was potentially recyclable. These findings highlight the need for improvements in segregation behaviour by householders and businesses, to help improve Ireland’s recycling performance.

Key actions needed to improve recycling rates include:

  • Targeted and co-ordinated awareness and education campaigns focused on improving the separate capture of food waste and plastic packaging;
  • More incentivised charging for householders and non-householders to reward reduction and recycling.