Municipal waste describes waste from households or similar, anything that goes in your bins outside your house is municipal waste. In 2021 there are three active landfills to dispose of municipal waste (down from 18 in 2012). In addition to this there are two municipal waste incinerators (EPA, 2021). Under Ireland's waste management plans the aim is to achieve a recycling rate of Managed Municipal Waste of 50% by 2020.
A high proportion of the waste that goes to landfill is made up of biological material such as food and garden waste and paper that rots in the landfill to produce a highly polluting liquid and very smelly landfill gas. The liquid, known as leachate, can pollute groundwater and surface water if not handled carefully and the gas can cause an odour problem for those living nearby. The EU has placed legal restrictions on the amount of this waste that can be landfilled with three progressive deadlines in 2010, 2013 and 2016. 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)
and is at risk of missing targets for:
- End-of-Life Vehicles (ELV) Directive (2000/53/EC)
- WEEE Directive recast (2012/19/EU)
- Batteries and Accumulators Directive (2006/66/EC)
On a positive note, recycling has had a beneficial effect on municipal waste, as the chart below indicates.The quantity of BMW disposed to landfill in 2018 was 190 ktonnes, compared to 307 ktonnes in 2017 amounting to a 38 per cent decrease (EPA, 2019).
For the latest information on waste in Ireland please see the EPA's state of the environment report.
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