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Reduction in waste from Irish homes

The EPA’s waste report for 2010 shows that Ireland is on track for meeting EU waste targets – and that the amount of waste generated by households has dropped.

Compost waste bins on a Dublin street this year.
Compost waste bins on a Dublin street this year.
Image: Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland

THE AMOUNT OF waste generated by Irish households has dropped, the  National Waste Report for 2010 shows.

The report, which is published today, was undertaken by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

It showed that:

  • A total of 2,846,115 tonnes of municipal waste was generated, a decrease of 3.6 per cent on 2009.
  • Ireland’s municipal waste recycling rate (excluding energy recovery) is 38 per cent, close to the EU27 norm of 40 per cent.
  • Municipal waste disposed to landfill was 1,495,565 t, a decrease of 13 per cent from 2009.
  • The UK remains the principal initial destination for Irish municipal waste recyclables.
  • Household waste decreased by 5 per cent to 1,420,706 t despite a rise in population, which the EPA says “strongly reflects national personal consumption trends”.
  • However, 29 per cent of occupied houses did not participate in, or are not offered, a waste collection service.
  • Household waste disposed at landfills also decreased – by 20 per cent to 843,842 t. This represents 184 kg household waste disposed to landfill per person in the State.
  • The quantity of household waste collected at kerbside decreased by 4 per cent in 2010
  • The private sector collected 65 per cent of household kerbside waste (up from 60 per cent in 2009 and 57 per cent in 2008), reflecting the fact that local authorities are moving out of the household waste collection market.
  • Galway City Council and Waterford County Council are the only local authorities which still provide household waste collection.


The report states that Ireland has met the first EU Landfill Directive biodegradable municipal waste diversion target.

The quantity of biodegradable municipal waste disposed at landfill decreased by 19 per cent from 2009 to 860,000 t.

The separate kerbside collection of household  organic waste increased from 62,447 t in 2009 to 63,836 t in 2010 despite a greater penetration of the organic bin collection service.

The quantity of commercial waste managed dropped by 12 per cent.

The Future

According to the EPA, 15 of the existing municipal solid waste landfills will use up their consented capacity within 3 years.

As a consequence of landfill distribution and closure, significant inter-regional movement of waste will need to be accommodated

In 2010, the Government published draft regulations to oblige waste collectors to provide or arrange for the separate collection of household food waste.

The EPA believes that local authorities will continue to exit the collection market as well as the operation of large infrastructure such as landfill.

It anticipates that residual waste disposal in Ireland will concentrate to a small number of landfill sites, and the nature of the fill will likely evolve to become more mineral/inert in composition.

It envisages that landfill levies, regulatory restrictions and resource value will continue to move waste away from disposal to recovery options.

A potential 0.5 Mt of metal resource has been placed in landfills in the last 12 years and the EPA says a new industry of fill mining (also known as urban mining) may develop to harvest the resources and energy potential of closed landfills.

It also believes that the number of anaerobic digestion plants in the State will increase.

Read: Uncollected Dublin bins could be “serious health hazard”>

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