Irish policy

National Policies, Objectives and Guidance

  • Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act 2015
  • Waste Management – Changing our Ways (1998)
  • Preventing and Recycling Waste – Delivering Change (2002)
  • Waste Management – Taking Stock and Moving Forward (2004)
  • A Resource Opportunity – Waste Management Policy in Ireland (2012)
  • National Biodegradable Waste Strategy 2006
  • National Hazardous Waste Management Plan 2014-2020
  • National Bioenergy Plan for 2014-2020
  • Energy White Paper,  Ireland’s Transition to a Low Carbon Energy Future 2015-2030

Relevant National Waste Strategies & Plans

The requirements of European law, particularly Directive 2008/98 on Waste. EU law is set down and in a succession of national policy statements, which collectively determine how a wide range of major waste types should be handled both now and in the future.

This national framework is substantiated by Regional Waste Management Plans. These are drafted by local authorities and set out how the implementation of these policies is to take place on the ground. A National Hazardous Waste Management Plan is also in force. Published by the EPA, this describes how hazardous waste is to be handled. The number of local authority waste planning regions was reduced to three in 2013, with revised plans being finalised in 2015.

The policy of the Irish Government in relation to waste management is grounded in the EU waste hierarchy. It confirms that: “The most favoured option is waste prevention, followed by minimisation, reuse, recycling, energy recovery and the least favoured option of disposal to landfill”.

National Strategy on Biodegradable Waste

This strategy is Ireland’s response to the Landfill Directive, and provides an outline of how Ireland can reduce the amount of biodegradable waste sent to landfill. The strategy includes a review of practices in other Member States, which finds that all countries with high landfill diversion rates use thermal treatment for a considerable proportion of traditional, ‘mixed waste’ collection of biodegradable municipal waste.

The strategy identifies waste-to-energy as the preferred method for treating residual waste in accordance with the internationally-accepted waste management hierarchy as a key element of Irish waste management policy. This method provides a robust technology for dealing with residual waste, and forms a necessary element in the integrated waste management plans of the six waste regions in Ireland, similar to models from other EU countries such as Germany, Belgium, Holland, Austria and Denmark.

National Hazardous Waste Management Plan

The National Hazardous Waste Management Plan 2014-2020 (NHWMP) is a revision of the National Hazardous Waste Management Plan 2008 – 2012 (the second plan) and sets out the priorities to be pursued during that period and beyond to improve the management of hazardous waste, taking into account the progress made since the previous plan and the waste policy and legislative changes that have occurred since the previous plan was published.

The objectives of the revised Plan are to prevent and reduce the generation of hazardous waste by industry and society generally. It aims to maximise the collection of hazardous waste with a view to reducing the environmental and health impacts of any unregulated waste and to provide for increased self-sufficiency in the management of hazardous waste and to minimise hazardous waste export;

It sets out the priorities to be pursued over the next number of years to continually improve the management of hazardous waste in the Republic of Ireland. The revised Plan has been prepared in accordance with Section 26 of the Waste Management Act 1996 as amended. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is tasked with developing a National Hazardous Waste Management Plan. Waste plans point to the need  to develop an additional 50,000 tonnes of thermal recovery capacity for the treatment of hazardous wastes.

Irish Energy Policy

Renewable resources as defined in Directive (2009/28/EC) include the biodegradable fraction of industrial and municipal waste. The Directive sets a target of 20% overall share of energy from renewable sources and requires that Ireland reaches a renewable penetration of 16% of all of its gross energy consumption by 2020.

Ireland’s contribution to meeting these targets is set out in the latest Energy White Paper,  Ireland’s Transition to a Low Carbon Energy Future 2015-2030 . The share of renewable energy is measured across three sectors: electricity (RES-E), transport (RES-T) and heating (RES-H). Each of the three renewable energy sectors has a 2020 target (40% RES-E; 10% RES-T; 12% RES-H).

The Energy White Paper set out Ireland’s energy policy framework overall with an emphasis on the key energy pillars of security of energy supply, environmental sustainability and economic competitiveness.  It acknowledges the role that bioenergy can contribute to broader policy objectives such as waste recovery and rural development, such as Waste to Energy, which not only generates energy, but also gives effect to national waste policy in terms of utilising waste as a resource.

It points to how Waste Management Policy in Ireland recognises the need to develop efficient ways to extract as much value as possible from waste in accordance with the requirements of the waste hierarchy and the opportunity for waste to be used as an indigenous energy resource . It notes the three new regional waste management plans for the period 2015-2021 support the development of additional thermal recovery and biological treatment capacity within the State. It notes how renewable electricity schemes, which support the generation of electricity and CHP technologies including waste-to-energy, anaerobic digestion and landfill gas, continue to support the use of waste as a renewable energy feedstock.

Ireland’s Climate Change Strategy

The provisions of the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act 2015. It provides for the establishment of a national framework with the aim of achieving a low-carbon, climate-resilient, and environmentally sustainable economy by 2050.  National mitigation plans (to lower Ireland’s level of greenhouse emissions),  a national adaptation framework (to provide for responses to changes caused by climate change) and tailored sectoral plans (to specify the adaptation measures to be taken by each Government ministry) must adhere to Ireland’s EU obligations or any international agreements such as COP21.