Managing Waste

Producing waste is a natural consequence of the world we live in. It becomes clear that we need to deal with our waste when you consider the vast quantities that we produce. Thinking about what we throw away every day helps us to understand the relationship between the use by the consumer/producer and the impact waste has on the environment. 

There are many facets to the management of waste.

Concepts: An agreed set of models were created to help waste management programmes in different countries.

Hierarchy:  The waste hierarchy is a classification of waste management options displayed graphically as a pyramid structure. It places the different waste disposal options in order of preference, with prevention first (at the top) and disposal last (at the bottom). See the Irish waste hierarchy here.

Disposal: Different types of waste are disposed of in different ways. Landfills and incineration are the two most popular ways to get rid of unwanted products. Increasingly, however, composting and prevention methods, such as designing products with less material in them, are being used.

Recycling: As disposal of waste becomes ever more difficult, recycling is encouraged. Biological reprocessing has also become a popular method of dealing with waste material.

Prevention: Creating less waste is better than having to dispose of it  - and cheaper. Using less, throwing away less and being conscious of your environment are the major factors in dealing with waste regulation problems.

Education: One of the ways to make sure that waste is better controlled is to inform people of the choices available to them to dispose of their waste materials.

Government policies: National policy on waste management is set out in A Resource Opportunity, published in July 2012. It sets out the measures through which Ireland will make the further progress necessary to become a recycling society, with a clear focus on resource efficiency and the virtual elimination of landfilling of municipal waste.

In 2013 the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) published Guidelines for National Waste Management Strategies. It outlined a shift from challenges to opportunities in the waste management sector. All Irish regulations pertaining to waste management can be viewed on the Irish Statute Book website  and the waste legislation area of the DCLG.

Food Waste

Food Waste Regulations (SI 508 of 2009) came into force on the 1st of July 2010. The regulations required that main sources of food waste should use a dedicated bin for their food waste and not mix it with other types of waste. They also required that a brown bin collection service is used so that the waste is brought to a composting facility or other approved recycling centre. Alternatively, the food waste can be brought directly to the recycling facility or can be treated by the business themselves by installing a composting unit. Further information is available on the Food Waste website.

As signalled in A Resource Opportunity (2012), the Minister of the Environment signed the European Union (Household Food Waste and Bio-waste) Regulations 2015 (S.I. No. 191 of 2015). The new regulations are designed to promote the segregation and recovery of household food waste, in line with the national policy and the Waste Framework Directive objectives of maximising the resource which can be extracted from waste and minimising the disposal of waste.


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