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EPA warns 'single-use and throwaway culture' leading to significant waste levels and decline in recycling

Recycling of packaging waste has declined from 70% in 2013 to 64% in 2018.

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IRELAND CONTINUES TO generate significant amounts of waste, amounting to 14 million tonnes in 2018, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

In particular, municipal waste, from household and commercial sources, amounted to 2.9 million tonnes, up 3.5% on 2017. The EPA said this waste is closely linked to high consumption levels as well as ‘single-use and throwaway culture’.

While Ireland achieved high recycling rates in some material streams, such as glass and paper or cardboard packaging, the figures reveal some worrying trends.

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Ireland’s recycling rate for municipal waste has decreased to 38% in 2018, having remained stagnant at 40% since 2014. Recycling of packaging waste has declined from 70% in 2013 to 64% in 2018.

The EPA said Ireland also continues to have some significant waste infrastructure deficits and relies on export for a number of key waste streams, including packaging and hazardous waste.

Dr Eimear Cotter, Director of the EPA’s office of environmental sustainability, said these figures indicate that “we are going in the wrong direction across a number of indicators, such as falling recycling levels”.

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“To get the most from our resources, we need to prevent waste and break the link between economic growth and waste generation.

“We also need to significantly increase our recycling rates to ensure that Ireland meets ambitious new EU targets in the coming years. Measures that promote better segregation of waste and also expand the range of materials that can be recycled in Ireland will be key to this.”

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