Recovery and disposal of municipal waste

Municipal waste is made up of household waste and commercial waste and other waste that is similar in nature to household waste such as waste from schools, restaurants, businesses that is similar to household waste.

In 2020, Ireland generated 3.2 million tonnes (Mt) of municipal waste, up from 3.1 Mt in 2019. The most recent data shows the municipal waste generation trend (in quantity terms) is going in the wrong direction and increasing steadily.

Of the 3.2 Mt of municipal waste managed in Ireland in 2020, 41% was recycled, 43 % was used in energy recovery (down from 46% in 2019) and 16% was landfilled (up slightly from 15% in 2019).

There has been a dramatic fall-off in landfilling of municipal waste over the past two decades in Ireland. The shift away from landfill was accompanied by increased levels of recycling in the early 2000s and more recently significant increases in the share of municipal waste sent for energy recovery. However, Ireland’s recycling rate for municipal waste has largely plateaued since 2010, following strong improvements in the early 2000s.

Ireland’s recycling rate for municipal waste of 41%, is well below the European average of 49% in 2020.The Waste Framework Directive recycling target will increase to 55% in 2025, 60% in 2030 and 65% in 2035. It will not be possible for Ireland to meet these challenging targets without changing to a circular economy.

 Ireland’s national waste statistics can be found here.

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