Waste Management Regulations

There are numerous types of waste, for example, household waste, packaging waste and electronic waste. In some instances, different types of waste require different disposal methods. Waste disposal can have negative impacts on people and the environment. For this reason, there are EU and Irish regulations for the correct disposal of waste.

The range of EU Directives addressing waste management include the Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control Directive (1996/61/EC) as well as the following:

Waste Framework Directive

The Waste Framework Directive (Directive 2008/98/EC on waste) details basic requirements for handling waste and defines what "waste" is. It provides that EU member states must:

  • Ensure that the disposal and recovery of waste does not present a risk to water, air, soil, plants and animals
  • Not allow waste disposal to constitute a public nuisance through excessive noise levels or unpleasant odours, or to degrade places of special natural interest
  • Prohibit the dumping or uncontrolled disposal of waste
  • Establish an integrated and effective network of waste disposal plants, prepare waste management plans, ensure that those who store waste handle it properly, and ensure that waste treatment operations are licensed
  • Require waste collectors to have special authorisation and to keep records
  • Carry out inspections of companies involved in waste collection or disposal
  • Undergo periodic inspections

Hazardous waste

The PCB/PCT Directive (Directive 96/59/EC on the disposal of polychlorinated biphenyls and polychlorinated terphenyls) deals with disposal of certain hazardous chemicals that represent a particular threat to the environment and to human health.

Sewage Sludge Directive
The Sewage Sludge Directive (Directive 86/278/EEC on the protection of the environment, and in particular of the soil, when sewage sludge is used in agriculture) sets regulations on the use of sewage sludge in agriculture.

Landfill Directive
The Landfill Directive (Directive 1999/31/EC on the landfill of waste) sets out detailed rules on waste landfills. It provides that operators of existing landfill sites must have an approved conditioning plan which indicates how the requirements of the Directive are to be met within the required timeframe. These plans must help prevent the negative effects of landfill on surface water, groundwater, soil and air. The Directive also bans certain types of waste from landfill sites, for example used tyres.

Incineration of Waste Directive
The Directive on the incineration of waste (Directive 2000/76/EC) aims to prevent or limit the negative impacts of the incineration of waste. It imposes operational and technical requirements and sets emission limit values for waste incineration and co-incineration plants within the EU.

Packaging Waste Directive
The Packaging Waste Directive (Directive 94/62/EC on packaging and packaging waste) sets targets for the recovery and recycling of packaging waste and requires member states to set up collection, recycling and recovery schemes for such waste.

End-of-Life Vehicles Directive
The End-of-Life Vehicles Directive (Directive 2000/53/EC on end-of-life vehicles) sets out measures which aim to prevent waste from motor vehicles and vehicle components that have reached the end of their life-cycle and to promote vehicle reuse, recycling and other forms of recovery. It requires that collection systems be set up to ensure that end-of-life vehicles are effectively and safely disposed of without damaging the environment.

Electrical and Electronic Waste (WEEE)
The Directive on waste electrical and electronic equipment (the WEEE Directive 2012/19/EU) aims to prevent the generation of electrical and electronic waste and to promote reuse, recycling and other forms of recovery in order to reduce the quantity of such waste to be eliminated through landfilling or incineration. It requires the collection of WEEE, recovery and reuse or recycling.

Ireland's Waste Management Regulation Performance

By the end of 2018 Ireland has met the targets for:

  • Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive (1994/62/EC)
  • Landfill Directive (1999/31/EC)
  • Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) directive (2002/96/EC)
  • Waste Framework Directive (2008/98/EC)
  • End-of-Life Vehicles (ELV) Directive (2000/53/EC)
  • WEEE Directive recast (2012/19/EU) and,
  • Batteries and Accumulators Directive (2006/66/EC)

Implementation of waste directives

These Directives are implemented in Ireland by the Environmental Protection Agency Act 1992, the Waste Management Act 1996, the Waste Management (Amendment) Act 2001 and the Protection of the Environment Act 2003. Several statutory instruments deal with specific aspects of EU Directives. Overall responsibility for waste management policy lies with the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications.

Waste policy and legislation are implemented largely by the Environmental Protection Agency and local authorities. The current waste management policy is set out in A Waste Action Plan for a Circular Economy: Ireland’s National Waste Policy 2020-2025.

The Waste Management Acts provide for a general duty on everyone not to hold, transport, recover or dispose of waste in a manner that causes or is likely to cause environmental pollution.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and waste
The EPA's main activities in the waste management area are:

  • Drawing up and reviewing the National Hazardous Waste Management Plan, which must be reviewed at least once every 5 years.
  • The integrated pollution prevention and control (IPPC) licensing system, which deals with the generation, recovery and disposal of waste
  • Development of guidelines for the selection, management, operation and ending of use of landfill sites
  • Authorisation of waste imports
  • Maintenance of a national waste database

Local authorities
Local authorities are responsible for:

  • Authorisation and control of commercial waste collection activities
  • Authorisation of waste exports and monitoring of internal movements of hazardous wastes
  • Waste permits for small-scale recovery and disposal activities
  • Ensuring adequate waste collection, recovery and disposal arrangements in their areas
  • Monitoring and inspection of waste activities generally

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