EEA warning despite top rubbish recycling rate

Ireland’s reputation as a green land is well-deserved as a new survey shows we have one of the best recycling rates of household rubbish anywhere in Europe.

However, the European Environmental Agency (EEA) said a lack of regulation and control of waste collection services could prevent us from meeting legally-binding EU recycling targets in the future.

Irish people recycle more household waste than the citizens of 35 European countries with the exception of Germans, according to the results of a new survey by the EU.

It reveals that 37% of domestic waste generated here in 2011 was recycled compared to the EU average of 25%.

The survey by Eurostat — the EU Statistical Office — shows the amount of municipal waste generated varies significantly as well as the methods of disposal and treatment.

Irish people generated an average of 623kg (98 stone) of household waste each in 2011 — the fifth highest amount in Europe and 24% above the EU average.

However, the amount of domestic waste produced here has decreased each year since a peak of 2006 when the average reached almost 800kg per person.

In Ireland, 90% of all household waste is treated compared to the EU average of 97% — a figure which suggests there remains a problem with the issue of illegal disposal of rubbish through burning and dumping.

Some 55% of domestic refuse in Ireland was sent to landfill in 2011 although the figure is down from 64% in 2007. The EU average is just 37%.

The EEA said Ireland met its 2010 Landfill Directive target, but warned that similar legally-binding targets for 2013 and 2016 were at risk of not being met “without considerable policy effort.”

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