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EPA Ireland report indicates increased use of municipal waste as fuel

World Cement,

EPA Ireland has released its 2012 National Waste Report. This indicates that the amount of municipal waste generated per capita fell from 0.78 t in 2007 to 0.59 t in 2012, a decline of 24%. The improvement has been partially attributed to better waste prevention in the country and a trend of lower waste generation, although the impact of the economic downturn on the amount of waste produced has also been cited as a factor.

Another key finding from the report was that 2012 was the first year in which the percentage tonnage of municipal waste recovered exceeded the percentage tonnage disposed, at 59% and 41%, respectively. This has been put down to greater use of municipal waste as fuel, as well as increases in the landfill levy for disposal of waste to landfill. In 2012, around 40% of Ireland’s municipal waste was recycled. The EU28 average is 42%.

According to the report, Ireland currently has a further two years’ worth of consented, operational landfill capacity, so alternative treatment solutions for waste are required.

Commenting on the report, Dr Jonathan Derham, EPA Programme Manager, noted: “The data shows that Irish society is producing less waste per capita and is deriving more value from the waste it does generate through recycling and use as a fuel. Maximising the resource efficiency of all materials consumed is an essential aim of our transition to a sustainable economy.”

“There have been significant developments in waste management in recent years as evidenced through the landfill levy, producer responsibility initiatives, the National Waste Prevention Programme, and new waste collection obligations which have been very successful in addressing our historically poor record on waste management. Ireland is now one of the top EU performers in relation to waste generation per capita and in achievement of our EU waste management obligations,” added Dr Derham.

Some key facts:

  • Consented waste to energy capacity (municipal waste incineration and co-incineration of wastes at cement kilns) is currently 542 875 tpa.
  • In 2012, 59% of managed municipal waste was recovered. This includes recycling, energy recovery, composting and digestion.
  • 34% of municipal waste managed in Ireland was exported for recovery in 2012.
  • The country’s first municipal waste incinerator was operational for full-year 2012, helping to boost recovery rates.
  • 17% of managed municipal waste was used as fuel, e.g. in cement plants.
  • Exports of baled municipal waste and refused-derived fuel for energy recovery were 36% higher in 2012 than in the previous year.

The 2012 National Waste Report can be downloaded from the EPA website.

Adapted from press release by

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