National policy on waste management is set out in A Resource Opportunity, published in  July 2012, and which sets out the measures through which Ireland will make the further progress necessary to become a recycling society, with a clear focus on resource efficiency and the virtual elimination of landfilling of municipal waste 


Changing Our Ways (1998)

This document (available on the right side of your screen) set the following ambitious targets for achievement over a fifteen year timescale:

  • a diversion of 50% of overall household waste away from landfill,
  • a minimum 65% reduction in biodegradable municipal wastes consigned to landfill,
  • materials recycling of 35% of municipal waste,
  • recovery of at least 50% of construction and demolition waste within a five year period, with a progressive increase to at least 85% over fifteen years, and
  • rationalisation of municipal waste landfills, with progressive and sustained reductions in numbers, leading to an integrated network of some 20 or so state-of-the-art facilities incorporating energy recovery and high standards of environmental protection.

There have been a number of documents published since 1998 (available on the right side of your screen) , which have progressed and strengthened  the policy on waste.

Delivering Change – Preventing and Recycling Waste ( 2002)

This document points the way forward and provides for a range of actions to be taken which will affect the way in which we deal with goods and materials at all stages from production to disposal.

Waste Management – Taking Stock and Moving Forward (2004)

This documemt is a review of progress on waste management modernisation since 1998 and a programme of key points to underpin future progress.

National Overview of Waste Management (2004)

This document was published in association with “Waste Management – Taking Stock and Moving Forward “ and details for each of the 10 waste management planning regions/areas, the waste management plan’s projections for future waste arisings, the waste management plan’s objectives in terms of recycling, thermal treatment and landfill, and the potential implications of changes (e.g. demographic changes, revised waste projections) for the implementation of the waste management plan.




Waste management in Ireland is in a transition phase - we are moving, relatively rapidly, from an unsophisticated and one dimensional approach which is heavily dependant on landfill, to one which will better reflect and give effect to the waste hierarchy and the polluter pays principle.

Waste was the last significant area of environmental management to be subject to modern policy development and legislation. Apart from the Litter Act, 1982, primary legislation on solid waste related principally to the public health functions of local authorities, and 87 sanitary authorities (county councils, borough councils (city) and borough city councils and urban district councils) were involved in "traditional" waste functions - i.e. street cleansing, and collection and disposal of municipal waste.

  • Pre 1990’s - Municipal waste collected by or on behalf of local authorities was mainly disposed of to landfill. The pre-eminence of landfill as a waste management option was due to its traditionally low relative cost, favourable geological conditions and Irish settlement patterns. Local authorities were responsible for permitting the disposal of waste by the private sector, though there was no external regulation of their own collection and disposal activities.There was little local authority involvement in the collection/management of industrial waste, though local authority facilities were used for the landfill of non-hazardous industrial wastes
  •  1992 - The Environmental Protection Agency was established. It provided for a system of integrated pollution control (IPC) which addressed the generation, recovery and disposal of wastes by relevant activities (which included hazardous and non-hazardous waste incineration) and emphasised progressive waste minimisation; The EPA was required to specify and publish criteria and procedures for the selection, management, operation and termination of use of landfill sites; and it enabled the establishment by the EPA of a national waste database.

    More details on the EPA can be accessed on the Environmental Protection Agency website (external link)

  • 1994 - National Recycling - 'Recycling for Ireland' published.The strategy focused on packaging waste, newsprint and organic (compostable) waste. It set an overall, minimum target recovery rate of 30% for waste packaging, and for extending the network of collection points for recyclable materials throughout the country. The principle of producer responsibility was adopted, whereby producers take responsibility for the waste produced by their products. The role of local authorities was also addressed.
  • 1996 - Waste Management Act. This Act was subsequently amended by the Waste Management (Amendment) Act 2001 and the Protection of the Environment Act 2003. These Acts are the legislative basis for all waste management issues.


Details of Waste Statistics can be accessed from the National Waste Report 2006 published by the EPA. Details can be accessed on the Environmental Protection Agency website (external link)