Hazardous waste statistics for Ireland

EPA waste data release 29 February 2024. Latest reference year 2022 (data subject to Eurostat validation)

What is hazardous waste?

A waste is hazardous when it can harm human health or the environment because it is explosive, oxidising, flammable, irritant, toxic, carcinogenic, corrosive, infectious, mutagenic, sensitising, or eco-toxic. 

Picture shows some containers of hazardous waste such as varnish, oil, adhesives, paint, and indistinguishable containers with hazardous labels
Figure 1. Examples of Hazardous Waste

Examples of hazardous waste types are pictured in Figure 1, and the labels that identify the type of hazard they present are pictured in Figure 2 (Pictograms to be used on labels under the Classification, Labelling and Packaging Regulations (EC) No 1272/2008)

Hazardous waste is controlled by strict regulations to protect against the threat to humans and the environment.

The UN Basel Convention came into force in 1992 and its objective is to control transboundary movements of hazardous waste and to protect human health and the environment against the adverse effects resulting from the generation, management, transnational movements and disposal of hazardous and other wastes. EU and Irish Regulations give effect to the Convention in Ireland and strengthen enforcement provisions in relation to waste movements within, into and out of the European Union.  


Pictograms to be used on labels under the Classification, Labelling and Packaging Regulations (EC) No 1272/2008
Figure 2.

Key Trends

Ireland generated 389,908 tonnes of hazardous waste in 2022, a decrease of 16% (over 77,000 tonnes) from 2021, see Figure 3. This decrease was driven by  reduced dredging activities at Dublin Port with dredged spoil quantities reducing by almost 65,000 tonnes.   

Almost all (99%) contaminated soils generated were treated at Irish hazardous waste facilities, see figure 3. Contaminated soils increased by over 8,000 tonnes. Contaminated soil arises due to activity at brown field sites, the development of which is favoured by the National Development plan. 

In 2022, 57 per cent of hazardous waste was treated abroad and 43 per cent was treated in Ireland. 

Approximately 169,000 tonnes of hazardous waste were treated in Ireland in 2022.  Hazardous waste treatment in Ireland takes place on site of generation (26,447 tonnes) or at Irish hazardous waste management facilities (142,961 tonnes). 

All exports were to countries that are party to the Basel Convention. 

Where does Hazardous Waste come from? 

Industrial facilities remain the largest source of hazardous waste in Ireland followed by the construction and demolition sector and then municipal sources, which remain small in comparison.

The Industrial sector - includes mining, pharmachem and waste recovery facilities etc., and contributed 77% of hazardous waste in 2022.  Types of waste generated include by-products of waste treatment, industrial solvents, sludges, oils, waste electrical & electronic equipment (WEEE), batteries and infectious waste from health care.

Construction and demolition - The quantity of hazardous waste generated by construction and demolition was 15%.  The contribution depends on activity to redevelop of brownfield sites and on dredging works, which decreased in 2022.  Construction and demolition waste also includes smaller amounts of asbestos, asphalt, and contaminated wood, concrete, bricks, metals, and tiles.

The municipal sector - is comprised of households, small businesses and farms, schools, colleges etc. It produces approximately 8% of Ireland’s hazardous waste.  Examples of waste types include batteries, certain waste electrical and electronic equipment, solvent-based paints, varnishes and waste oils.

What types of hazardous waste does Ireland produce? 

Table 1 below shows the types of hazardous waste generated in Ireland according to List of Waste 

Hazardous Waste Treatment

Hazardous waste must be treated to reduce its potential to pollute the environment or to threaten human health. Ireland’s hazardous waste is treated either on-site at the industrial facility where the waste was generated (under conditions of EPA licence), offsite at hazardous waste treatment facilities in Ireland, or at facilities in other countries. 

On-Site Treatment at Industrial Facilities

EPA licensed industrial facilities fully treated 26,447 tonnes of hazardous waste at 11 locations in 2022. This is a decrease of almost 68,000 tonnes on the 95,130 tonnes treated in 2021.  This was due to the reduction of 65,000t of dredging soil at Dublin Port.  Figure 4 shows the range of disposal and recovery activities used. 

The waste generated at EPA licensed facilities does not include solvents that underwent R2 activities on site (i.e. solvent reclamation and regeneration) and re-entered industrial activities on-site.  This is considered a waste prevention activity because it means that solvents that undergo this process are re-used and therefore do not become waste. 

Hazardous Waste Treatment in Ireland

Irish hazardous waste treatment facilities treated 142,961 tonnes of hazardous waste to non-hazardous status in 2022, a decrease of 4% on the previous year.  Waste types treated included used motor oil, healthcare wastes, sludges, filter cakes, absorbents, laboratory and chemical waste, contaminated soils and household hazardous waste from civic amenity sites.  This waste is treated until it is non-hazardous; the non-hazardous wastes that result are then further treated either in Ireland or abroad.

Exports for Treatment

Approximately 43 per cent of hazardous waste was treated in Ireland in 2022 either on site of generation or at hazardous waste facilities. Ireland does not have the facilities required to treat the full range of hazardous waste it produces and therefore 57% of Ireland’s hazardous waste was exported for treatment in 2022. 


Figure 5 below shows the countries that accepted this waste. EU member states and Great Britain and Northern Ireland accepted 99% of our hazardous waste exports in 2021.  The spike in waste sent to the Netherlands in 2018 and 2019 has continued to reduce in 2020 and 2021 due to the decrease in incinerator bottom ash from municipal waste incinerators. 

Contaminated soils

The generation of contaminated soils increased by over 8,000 tonnes in 2022 compared to 2021. Almost all treatment of contaminated soils took place in Ireland, see Figure 6.  Exports of contaminated soil have decreased to less than 1% of soils generated. 


European reporting

As part of annual reporting under the Basel Convention on the control of transboundary movements and the disposal of hazardous waste, the EPA submits hazardous waste statistics for Ireland to the Department of Environment, Climate and Communications for transmission to Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. The data are required to be submitted by 31st December of the reference year +1 (i.e. 2022 data were collected and processed in 2023 and submitted to Eurostat by 31st December 2023). Following validation by Eurostat, official statistics for Ireland and all Member States are published on the Eurostat website as part of the following dataset:

[1] Edible and food oils are not included