Municipal Waste Characterisation

In our everyday lives we produce a general mix of waste in our homes and commercial premises (e.g. offices, shops, cafes and schools). This type of waste is called 'municipal waste' and is usually collected at kerbside or we can bring it to ‘bring centres’ e.g. civic amenity sites, recycling centres, bring banks or WEEE collection points. 

The composition of municipal waste varies over time in response to changes in consumption patterns, manufacturing and waste management practices. The EPA carries out regular characterisation studies of kerbside collected municipal waste to get up-to-date information on the composition of our household and commercial waste.  Our most recent municipal waste characterisation study was carried out in 2022 and the key findings are summarised below.  The detailed municipal waste characterisation methodology, results and recommendations are presented in the technical reports and models below. 

The latest national municipal waste characterisation project found over two thirds of waste in the general household and commercial bins could have been placed in the recycling and organic waste bins.  Food waste and plastics are the most common wastes in our bins. 

Urgent action is needed to improve Ireland's waste segregation and recycling performance to achieve municipal waste recycling targets of 55% by 2025 (65% by 2035) and transition to a circular economy.

Municipal Waste Characterisation Models

The 2022 household waste characterisation model and commercial waste characterisation model provide a summary of the percentage of different waste materials in household and commercial mixed residual waste (general waste bins), mixed dry recycling (recycling bins) and organic waste bins collected at kerbside.