Statistics released today by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) show that Ireland’s municipal solid waste generation has decreased by 17% since it peaked in 2007, largely as the result of the recession and a decline in personal consumption.

Ireland now produces less household waste per capita than the EU average and is recycling 40% of its municipal waste. There was a 5% increase in municipal waste recovery since 2010, to 47%.

It is also achieving all its EU waste recovery targets with the exception of end-of-life vehicles. However the majority of municipal waste (53%) is disposed of to landfill while of that diverted, 73%, is exported for recovery.

Commenting on the figures EPA’s Dr Jonathan Derham said that Ireland continues to show a “substantial reliance” on recovery of municipal waste abroad.

“Some future targets remain at risk of not being met. Ireland’s continued reliance on landfill means that we are at risk of not reaching strict biodegradable waste diversion targets by 2016.

“Also, with higher end-of-life vehicle targets coming into effect from January 2015, urgent action is needed to increase reuse, recovery and recycling of [these] materials.”

Dr Derham added that waste generation needed to be decoupled from economic growth through ensuring that prevention and resource efficiency remains at the core of national policy, so that when economic recovery happens there is not an associated increase in waste volumes.

Maxine Perella

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