Government waste management policy is set out in A Resource Opportunity - Waste Management Policy in Ireland, published in 2012. 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.
Thermal recovery activities such as waste to energy, co-incineration (e.g. at cement kilns), pyrolysis and gasification, where the principal use of the waste is as a fuel to generate energy, sit on the 'other recovery' tier of the waste hierarchy and in line with European policy are preferred to the disposal or landfilling of waste.
In this regard, 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). Furthermore, recycling rates of 55%, 60% and 65% of municipal waste (by weight) must be achieved by 2025, 2030 and 2035 respectively.
The continued implementation of European, 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 these new targets.
A review of "A Resource Opportunity - Waste Management Policy in Ireland " was initiated earlier this year. This review process will take account of a number of initiatives, such as the European Circular Economy waste and plastics legislation framework and the reports from the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission and the Price Monitoring Group. This process will inform the development of future national waste management policy, including our environmental goals, regulatory and market structures, and relevant policy instruments and tools.