EPA waste data release, 31st May 2022. Latest reference year, 2020
Household waste includes residual waste, recyclable waste and organic waste collected directly from households and waste brought by householders to waste collection centres such as bring banks, civic amenity sites, and pay-to-use compactors.
Ireland generated approximately 1.89 million tonnes (t) of household waste in 2020; 1.85 million t of household waste was managed and an estimated 31,700 t was unmanaged.
This data release presents key statistics on the generation and management of Irish household waste in 2020.
Figure 2 Household bin waste collection trends 2015-2020 (excel table)
|Year||Mixed residual collection (black bin) (%)||Mixed dry recyclables collection (green bin) (%)||Organics collection (brown bin) (%)|
More data on the amount of waste collected from households within counties and local authority areas are presented in Table 1 and the Figure 3 below.
There are significant variations between counties across Ireland in the overall quantity of household waste collected per person, as well as differences in the amount of waste collected by bin type (Figure 3 and Table 1). While further analysis into these trends will be undertaken, variations are likely to be linked with differences in the waste collection services and infrastructure provided (e.g. prevalence of 2-bin vs. 3-bin systems in rural vs. urban areas), large variations between counties in the share of the population using authorised waste collectors (as shown in Figure 3), and behavioural factors (such as bin sharing).
The three counties with lowest percentage of household residual bin collection services are Co. Kerry (54%), Co. Kilkenny (60%) and Co. Roscommon (61%) while the counties/areas with the highest percentage of residual bin collection services are Fingal (98%), Co. Kildare (95%) and Co. Louth (91%)
The three counties with lowest percentage of household recycling bin collection services are Co. Kerry (54%), Co. Kilkenny (59%) and and Co. Roscommon (59%) while the counties/areas with the highest percentage of recycling bin collection services are Fingal (97%), Co. Kildare (94%) and Co. Meath (89%).
The three counties with lowest number of brown bin collection services are Co. Cavan (12%), Co. Donegal (16%) and Co. Westmeath (16%), while the areas with the highest number of brown bin collection services are all in Dublin (Fingal (89%), Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown (73%) and South Dublin (75%).
Fig.3 Household bin waste kg per capita & per local authority 2020 (excel table)
|Local Authority||Mixed residual collection (black bin)||Mixed dry recyclables collection (green bin)||Organics collection (brown bin)||% of households with residual bin collection (bin sharing not included)||% of households with recycling bin collection service||% of households with organic bin collection service|
|Avg kilos per capita||Avg kilos per capita||Avg kilos per capita||percentage||percentage||percentage|
|Cork City & County*||141||60||34||77%||76%||53%|
|Galway City & County||154||51||43||87%||83%||50%|
|* City Council & County Council data combined|
Our focus for the future needs to be on achieving a circular economy and waste prevention so we can make the most of our resources while protecting the environment. Household waste generation in Ireland generally tends to be closely linked with lifestyle and consumption patterns. However, it is notable that, personal consumption of goods and services fell significantly in 2020 as the pandemic changed the spending habits of Irish consumers due to widespread closure of many commercial and economic sectors, while household waste generation increased significantly, as more people stayed at home (Figure 4 below).
Reversing the upward trend in household waste generation will require the urgent implementation of policy measures contained in the Waste Action Plan for a Circular Economy designed to significantly cut down on packaging waste and food waste in particular. Packaging waste makes up 29% of the waste in household residual and recycling bins collected at kerbside, and Ireland’s generation of packaging waste continues to rise. To tackle household waste generation, we need cut down on the amount of packaging placed on the market in the first place by innovating and moving to circular business models and ensure that any remaining packaging is designed either for reuse or is readily recyclable. We also need to do more to prevent food waste through initiatives such as Stop Food Waste. Human behaviour also plays a key role, as does the availability and accessibility of appropriate waste management options for householders.
Figure 4 Trend in Household Waste & Consumption of Goods & Services (excel table)
|Year||Household waste managed (tonnes)||Personal consumption of goods and services (€ billion)|
|Personal consumption of goods and services sourced from CSO Ireland|
Improperly segregated household waste results in the cross-contamination of recyclables and inefficient waste management. Due to the nature of residual household waste, it is difficult to segregate recyclables once they are placed in the residual waste bin, meaning most of Ireland’s household waste continues to be incinerated or landfilled. The EPA is currently undertaking a new municipal household waste characterisation study which will be published in 2023. This study will provide an insight into how householders waste segregation practices have changed since the last characterisation study was carried in 2018.
The brown bin roll out to households has increased the composting rate of organic waste. The number of households with brown bins increased by approximately 64,000 in 2020 to 882,249. However only 64% of Irish households who had a kerbside bin collection service in 2020 had a brown bin (percentage includes bin sharing). Therefore, despite improved brown bin services and use, a large proportion of Ireland’s organic waste, including food waste, is not yet being recycled. New EU waste legislation means that the separate collection of biowaste will be mandatory from the end of 2023.
More needs to be done to support Irish householders to use bins and waste collection centres correctly, to expand waste collection and recycling infrastructure and to prevent and minimise waste all along the supply chain. Early implementation of the policy commitments in Ireland’s Waste Action Plan for a Circular Economy will be instrumental in driving this change.
1 non-household municipal (commercial) data will from part of the municipal waste reporting scheduled for July 2022.
2 What we comsumed - CSO
3The statistics on improperly segregated household waste were calculated by applying the results of the EPA 2018 Waste Characterisation Study to the tonnage of household waste managed in 2019.
4 CSO, Household Environmental Behaviours - Waste and Recycling Quarter 3 (2021)
Table 1. Summary of Irish household waste (collected and brought), 2020
|Waste Stream (tonnes)|
|Local Authority or Private Facility||Mixed residual waste collection (black bin)||Mixed dry recyclables collection (green bin)||Organic waste collection (brown bin)||Segregated glass collection||Bring banks||LA Civic amenity sites||Private Civic amenity sites||Skip collections from households||Other Collections1||Household waste delivered directly to landfill2||Pay to use compactors||Total household waste per local authority|
|Eastern and Midlands Region||353,265||136,848||125,525||1,232||55,252||90,562||10,636||140,245||12,002||0||0||925,568|
|Limerick City and County||28,938||13,304||8,270||445||6,821||6,172||464||5,653||0||-||561||70,628|
|Waterford City and County||20,031||6,542||7,932||92||3,248||4,129||2,011||2,679||224||-||81||46,969|
|Total Household Waste5 (t)||722,911||267,590||199,823||8,787||120,195||176,562||53,345||234,308||17,819||0||1,924||1,853,697|
|1. Other Collections estimated tonnage of house clear outs, bulky waste collections, christmas trees (where not reported at CAS), chemcar collections|
|2. Household waste delivered directly to landfill by householders (t)|
|3. Waste portable batteries collected by compliance schemes at civic amenity sites, retail premises and one-off collection days|
|4. Household WEEE collected by compliance schemes at retail premises, one-off collection days & civic amenity sites and waste facilities|
|5. Household Waste included municipal & non-municipal|