National Strategy on Biodegradable Waste

National Strategy on Biodegradable Waste

Biodegradable municipal waste (BMW) means the biodegradable component of municipal waste, and does not include biostabilised waste. Biodegradable municipal waste is typically composed of food and garden waste, wood, paper, cardboard and textiles.

The National Strategy on Biodegradable Waste was published in April 2006 and set out measures to progressively divert biodegradable municipal waste from landfill in accordance with the agreed targets in EU Directive 1999/31/EC on the landfill of waste.  

Council Directive 1999/31/EC on the landfill of waste (known as the Landfill Directive) requires Member States of the European Union to reduce their dependence on the landfill of municipal waste in favour of more environmentally sound alternatives.  Article 5 of the Directive specifically required each Member State to prepare a National Strategy on Biodegradable Waste (2006) (pdf, 1,663kb) to set out measures aimed at the separate collection, recovery and recycling of biodegradable waste.  The Directive also set targets in relation to the progressive diversion of biodegradable municipal waste from landfill.  

The National Strategy is based on the integrated waste management approach established as Government policy since the publication of Changing Our Ways (pdf, 725kb) in 1998.  The preferred options for dealing with BMW are:

  • prevention and minimisation – avoiding generating the waste
  • recycling – mainly of paper and cardboard but also of textiles
  • biological treatment – mainly of kitchen and garden waste including composting
  • residual treatment – thermal treatment with energy recovery or by way of mechanical-biological treatment

The Strategy sets specific objectives for the achievement of the 2016 target for diversion of BMW from landfill.   It proposes that, by 2016, recycling (principally of paper and cardboard waste which cannot be reused) will divert 875,371 tonnes (38.6%) from landfill with biological treatment (mainly food and garden waste) contributing 442,129 tonnes (19.5%) to the overall target with thermal treatment diverting 499,762 tonnes (22%) of residual waste. 

Figure: Tonnage of Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) and BMW landfilled per quarter in 2011 versus Landfill Directive Targets for BMW:


‎ EPA - Biodegradable Municipal Waste Targets







With effect from 1 July 2013, the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government increased the landfill levy, using the power available to him under the Waste Management Acts. The Waste Management (Landfill Levy)(Amendment) Regulations 2013 (SI No 194 of 2013 (pdf, 104kb)  increased the landfill levy by 10 euro to 75 euro per tonne for each tonne of waste disposed of at authorised and unauthorised landfill facilities.

This levy will make pre-treatment more cost effective - particularly in respect of BMW - thereby reducing the quantities and costs of residual disposal to landfill. Latest available data indicates that Ireland is on track to meet the full-year 2013 target.