The EPA’s National Waste Statistics Summary Report for 2019 highlights the scale of the challenges we face in waste reduction in Ireland, while also confirming some of the dramatic improvements in waste management over recent years such as the reduction in the use of landfill to deal with municipal waste down from 80% in 2001 to 15% in 2019. The report also indicates that Ireland met all current EU targets in 2019, with the exception of a newly introduced WEEE separate collection target. Notwithstanding these successes, significant challenges remain. As the report states, waste generation in Ireland increased in 2019, while recent changes in EU legislation have introduced stricter targets for recycling and for landfilling of waste.
The Waste Action Plan for a Circular Economy, which was published in September last year, contains over 200 measures that will be instrumental in meeting the challenges identified in the EPA report, with a key focus on minimising waste generation and extending the productive life of the materials we use. Some measures have been delivered already, such as the inclusion of soft plastics in the household recycling bin. A large number of transformational measures, such as the introduction of a Deposit and Return Scheme, are well-advance and others will be introduced through the forthcoming Circular Economy Bill, such as provisions to improve segregation of waste in the commercial sector, and a national food waste prevention roadmap.
A new National Waste Management Plan will be published in 2022 which will set out the further actions at local and regional levels required to deliver on the Waste Action Plan and support Ireland's circular economy transition.