Ireland off course to meet mandatory EU recycling targets

Ireland off course to meet mandatory EU recycling targets

Sustainability

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released its Circular Economy and Waste Statistics Highlights Report for 2021, revealing concerning trends in Ireland's waste management. Despite a rising trend in waste generation, the nation is falling short of critical EU recycling targets scheduled for implementation from 2025 onwards.

Key findings from the report include a 10% increase in construction and demolition (C&D) waste, reaching 9 million tonnes, and a 9% rise in packaging waste, totalling 1.2 million tonnes. Municipal waste generation remained steady at 3.17 million tonnes.

However, recycling rates present a stalling scenario, with municipal waste recycling holding at 41%, and packaging recycling declining by 4% to 58%. The report indicates that only 28% of plastic packaging generated in Ireland in 2021 was recycled, with 70% treated by incineration and 2% disposed of.

The current trajectory puts Ireland off course to meet the mandatory EU recycling targets set to take effect in 2025 for municipal waste, packaging waste, and plastic packaging waste. Persistent high levels of waste generation, coupled with stagnant recycling rates, make it increasingly unlikely for Ireland to achieve the required milestones for municipal, plastic packaging, and total packaging recycling.

David Flynn, Director of the EPA’s Office of Environmental Sustainability, said: We continue to throw away far too much, wasting valuable materials. We live on a resource-finite planet and resource extraction causes greenhouse gas emissions, biodiversity loss and water stress. To reduce these impacts, we must accelerate our transition from a linear economy to a circular, more resource-efficient economy. Right now, we need to focus on avoiding waste. That means reusing construction waste materials where possible, becoming better at segregating our municipal waste and vastly improving the recycling of packaging materials.
Warren Phelan, Programme Manager of the EPA’s Circular Economy Programme said: Ireland is overly reliant on the export of waste for treatment and we are vulnerable to shocks and changes in international markets. We do not have enough facilities for the treatment of non-hazardous and hazardous waste which are missed opportunities to capture the energy and economic value of these wastes.

These findings were originally published on the EPA website.

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