Wexford, Ireland — The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has published 2015 information about Ireland’s progress in improving recovery levels of waste. The figures show that while Ireland has made progress. But it will need to improve a lot more if it is to meet the need for even higher levels of recycling and recovery, taking these materials out of the waste stream and supporting the establishment of a circular economy in Ireland. Further progress is needed to protect the environment, meet incoming EU regulations and facilitate the move to a circular economy in Ireland.
While Ireland has made progress in improving recycling and recovery levels,
- 68 per cent of waste packaging generated in 2015 was recycled. This exceeds the current EU target (55 per cent) but the proposed EU target – to recycle 75 per cent waste packaging by 2030 – will be a challenge.
- Ireland surpassed EU targets for collection and recovery of waste electrical and electronic equipment in 2015 but more ambitious targets come into force from 2016 onwards.
- Despite an upward trend in the recovery and recycling of end-of-life vehicles in recent years, Ireland failed to meet the higher targets that came into force in January 2015.
Ireland is still wasting a significant amount of valuable material that could be reused and recovered. EPA figures suggest a need for a much greater focus on the promotion of a circular economy where the value of products and materials is maintained for as long as possible. This approach saves the economy money and reduces pressure on the environment.
An important step in a move to circular economy
Dr Eimear Cotter, Director of the EPA’s Office of Environmental Sustainability commented: “The information published today shows that Ireland has made progress in improving recycling and recovery levels in the areas of waste packaging, waste electrical and electronic equipment and end-of-life vehicles. This is an important step in a move to circular economy and will support extracting more value from our waste. At the same time, we need to decouple personal consumption from economic growth by maintaining a sharp focus on waste prevention and re-use across all waste streams.”
The three waste streams reported on by the EPA are waste packaging, waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) and end-of-life vehicles. All three are subject to producer responsibility legislation. The idea behind producer responsibility initiatives is that those who manufacture or place the products on the market are responsible for funding the collection and treatment of their products when they become waste, in line with the Polluter Pays principle.
Nearly all waste packaging recovery and recycling targets met
Management of waste packaging has met all EU waste packaging recovery and recycling targets to date. However, the amount of waste packaging generated is increasing and the amount being recycled has plateaued. Meeting the proposed EU target to recycle 75 per cent of packaging waste by 2030 will be a challenge.
Ireland has, so far, met all EU Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) recovery and recycling targets. However, new ambitious collection targets have come into effect from 2016. EPA figures show that in 2015, 8.6 kg of household WEEE was collected per person. The EU target for 2015 was 4 kg per person.
New, higher targets for the recovery and recycling of end-of-life vehicles came into force from January 2015. The targets require 95 per cent reuse and recovery and 85 per cent reuse and recycling of end-of-life vehicles. Ireland failed to meet the targets in 2015, achieving 92 per cent reuse and recovery and 83 per cent reuse and recycling.
Fiona McCoole, Office of Environmental Sustainability added: “October is National Reuse Month. We’re asking people to think about whether you can reuse, donate or repair everyday objects rather than discard them as waste. If waste can’t be prevented, be careful to separate your waste and present it for collection in the correct bin. Dry recyclables should be presented uncontaminated to maximise their potential for recycling.”
Source: Environment Protection Agency