European, national and regional waste management policy is predicated on the waste hierarchy as set out in Article 4 of the 2008 Waste Framework Directive (2008/98/EC), whereby the prevention, preparing for reuse, recycling and other recovery of waste are preferred options to the disposal or landfilling of waste.
Statistics compiled by the Environmental Protection Agency show that we have come a long way in a relatively short period of time in terms of improving our recycling and recovery rates and reducing our reliance on landfill. In this regard, National Waste Statistics are available to download at https://www.epa.ie/nationalwastestatistics/ including the State's progress in meeting targets under EU waste legislation including the Waste Framework Directive; the Landfill Directive; and the Producer Responsibility Directives (Packaging, End-of-Life Vehicles, Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment, Batteries and Accumulators).
Of particular note is the reduction in the disposal (landfill) rate of managed Municipal Solid Waste. 26% of managed municipal waste (by weight) was sent to landfill in 2016 compared to 41% in 2012 and 92% in 1995. Furthermore, 74% of managed municipal waste was recovered in 2016 (compared to 59% in 2012). Significantly more residual waste is now used as a fuel (energy recovery) than disposed to landfill. Further information is available at http://www.epa.ie/nationalwastestatistics/municipal/.
New waste management targets agreed by the European Council include a provision that Member States shall take the necessary measures to ensure that by 2035 the amount of municipal waste landfilled is reduced to 10% or less of the total amount of municipal waste generated (by weight).
The continued implementation of national and regional waste management policy to manage waste in line with the waste hierarchy will help ensure that Ireland is well placed to meet this new target.