EPA waste data release 26 October 2022. Latest reference year 2020.
The C&D sector in Ireland generated an estimated 8.2 million tonnes of waste in 2020 (based on data reported by authorised waste collectors and local authorities). This represents a decrease of nearly 0.6 million tonnes on the 8.8 million tonnes of C&D waste generated in 2019. Figure 1 illustrates that the annual quantity of C&D waste generated in Ireland increased considerably from 2014 to 2019, corresponding with a steady increase in the level of construction activity nationally. The reversal of this trend in 2020 is attributable to the Covid 19 restrictions on the building industry.
Figure 1. Quantity of construction waste managed in Ireland, compared with CSO construction index (Source: EPA, NWCPO and CSO).
Greater levels of C&D waste prevention can be achieved by employing best practice circular construction activities. This includes designing out waste, application of Article 27 by-product regulation and maximising the use of resources in line with the EPA’s revised Best Practice Guidelines for the Preparation of Resource Management Plans for Construction & Demolition Projects.
Table 1. Composition of C&D waste collected in Ireland in 2020
|C&D Waste Type||Tonnage||Per cent of total|
|Soils, stones & dredging spoil||6,946,632||84.4%|
|Concrete, brick, tile & gypsum||524,605||6.4%|
|Mixed C&D waste||377,963||4.6%|
|Segregated wood, glass & plastic||52,131||0.6%|
Open in Excel: C&D Table 1 2020 (XLS 15KB)Open in CSV : C&D Table 1 2020 (CSV 1KB)
Table 1 provides compositional details of C&D waste. This stream is made up of many different materials and the separation of these materials, either at C&D sites or at waste facilities, is the necessary first step to enable recycling and recovery. Soil and stones (and similar material) made up the vast majority (84 per cent) of C&D waste collected in 2020, dwarfing the contribution of other material types. The next largest C&D waste types generated in 2020 were concrete, brick, tile and gypsum waste (six per cent) and mixed C&D waste (five per cent). Even though only 3.1 per cent of C&D waste was collected separately as single material streams (wood, glass, plastic or metal), it is encouraging to note the increase from 2.5 in 2019.
The vast majority (95 per cent) of C&D waste underwent final treatment in Ireland in 2020 and only five per cent was exported abroad for final treatment.
Most of the C&D waste undergoing final treatment in Ireland was recovered by backfilling (82%), while 10% went for disposal and only 8% was recycled (Figure 2).
Figure 3 show the final treatment operations carried out on different C&D waste streams in 2020 (Note 1). Table 2 provides details of the tonnages of the CDW treated.
Recycling was the main treatment operation for metals (100 per cent), segregated wood, paper, glass and plastic (79 per cent) and waste bituminous mixtures (57 per cent). Recycling rates for C&D waste could be improved by enhanced segregation of C&D waste into individual material streams, either at source or at waste processing facilities.
Backfilling is the most significant treatment of C&D waste. It refers to a recovery operation carried out at authorised facilities, where suitable waste is used for land improvement, for reclamation purposes in excavated areas or for engineering purposes in landscaping. Soil recovery facilities are typically worked out quarries in the process of being restored or sites where soil and stone is imported to raise natural ground levels. The prominence of backfilling as a final treatment operation reflects the high tonnages of waste soil and stones in the C&D waste stream.
Disposal was mainly used for C&D waste treatment residues and a smaller share of mixed C&D waste and soil and stones.
Table 2. Final treatment operation by C&D waste stream in 2020
|Treatment type||Recycling (t)||Energy recovery (t)||Backfilling (t)||Disposal (t)||Total|
|Segregated wood, glass & plastic||70,415||17,632||13||1,454||89,514|
|Concrete, brick, tile & gypsum||208,307||278,192||25,724||512,222|
|Waste Bituminous mixtures||61,306||1||46,741||187||108,235|
|Mixed C&D waste||27,728||13,654||23,942||10,972||76,297|
|Waste soils, stones & dredging spoil||5,548||6,276,522||497,916||6,779,987|
|Waste treatment residues||0||7,402||3,465||250,950||261,816|
|1 Please note that no gypsum was backfilled or landfilled|
Open in Excel: C&D Table 2 2020 (XLS 11KB)Open in CSV : C&D Table 2 2020 (CSV 1KB)
Preventing waste and promoting reuse are integral to the circular economy. While this applies to all economic sectors, it is particularly relevant for the construction sector which handles large volumes of natural resources, such as soil and stone. Successful activation of the circular economy in this sector could see millions of tonnes of resources beneficially reused every year.
Article 27 of the European Communities (Waste Directive) Regulations, 2011 allows an economic operator to decide, under certain circumstances, that a material is a by-product and not a waste. It allows construction and demolition materials to be used elsewhere on development projects as a by-product and not discarded as a waste. Decisions made by economic operators under Article 27 must be notified to the EPA. The EPA may determine to agree with the economic operator’s decision, as notified; alternatively, after consultation with the notifier and the relevant local authority, the EPA may determine that the notified material is waste.
For more information on By-products Regulation 27 | Environmental Protection Agency (epa.ie) and End of Waste (Art. 28) | Environmental Protection Agency (epa.ie) are available on EPA website.
In 2020, the EPA received by-product notifications for 3,217,523 tonnes of soil and stone material. Notifications for 155,200 tonnes were withdrawn. The EPA determined that 1,374,575 tonnes of the soil and stone notified were by-product and that 73,000 were waste (Figure 5). The estimated quantity of soil and stone material notified in 2020 for which no determination was made to date, amounted to 1,614,748 tonnes.
It is important to note that by-product notifications do not necessarily mean that any or all of the material was generated or indeed moved. Notifiers of by-product may not have proceeded with the activities related to the by-product notifications. However, if they did proceed, the materials would not have entered the waste management network or be included in the 2020 C&D waste statistics data presented here. Only material notified as by-product, determined to be waste, generated and moved as waste in 2020 is covered by the EPA’s 2020 C&D waste statistics.
More information about how the EPA compiles and reports Official European Waste Statistics is available here.
Note : EPA estimates of C&D waste collected and treated are based on different datasets. Waste collectors record waste as it enters the waste treatment network, whereas the final treatment data indicates what happens to waste at the end of its journey through the waste treatment network. This can lead to differences in waste classifications and quantities. Notwithstanding this, following EPA data validation, there was a 1.5 per cent difference overall between the tonnages of C&D waste collected and finally treated in 2020, providing a high level of confidence in the C&D waste statistics for 2020.
 Please note that no gypsum was backfilled or landfilled