How Much Waste Does Ireland Produce?

Croke Park as a rubbish dump

Ireland, per head of population, is among the highest waste producers in Europe. Our waste every year would fill Croke Park to the top of the stands. It is estimated that almost 14 million tonnes of waste were generated in Ireland in 2018 across all economic sectors and households, corresponding to 2.9 tonnes per person (EPA, 2020). Main sources of waste included municipal waste, construction and demolition waste and other sources such as industry and agriculture.

Littering and Illegal Dumping

A framework to deal with litter problem in Ireland is provided by the Litter Pollution Acts 1997 to 2009. In 2019, the National Litter Pollution Monitoring System report, published by the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications, showed that pedestrians caused the highest level of litter pollution at 41%, with passing motorists the next highest offenders of litter pollution nationally at 22.8%. The main constituent of litter pollution was cigarette-related litter: 53.9%.

Unfortunately, illegal dumping is very common in Ireland. It is unnecessary and causes a lot of concern for our countryside and all the wildlife that inhabits it. In order to combat illegal dumping in the upland Dublin/Wicklow areas, the Protecting Uplands and Rural Environments (PURE) Project was initiated in 2006. Each month the PURE Project collects 30 tonnes of illegally dumped waste in these areas. If you witness environmental pollution such as fly-tipping, littering or backyard burning you can report it through the the 24-hour nationwide environmental complaints phone line (1850 365 121). These complaints are monitored by all local authorities.

With so much waste around it is little wonder that there is increasing pressure on landfill sites and other waste infrastructure. The capacity of these dumps has improved since 2001, largely due to the licensing of additional and extended landfill facilities. A number of regions continue to have very limited landfill capacity remaining however. More information on these and other aspects of Irish waste can be found in the EPA's Ireland's Environment 2020 - An Assessment and National Waste Report 2018 (published in 2020).


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