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Ireland Burns 70% of Plastic Waste

Data from Ireland’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) shows that the country’s plastic waste recycling rate is only 28%. This is a very troublesome figure in the face of Ireland’s 2030 emissions reduction targets.

Ireland relies heavily on waste-to-energy for the disposal of 70% of the plastic waste it generates.

Plastic Waste

Packaging waste alone in Ireland has exceeded 1 million tons for three consecutive years and plastic is a major contributor to this figure. This should sound alarm bells for consumers and manufacturers to take decisive action now to end our dependence on this material.

The amount of plastic sent to incineration in 2017 was 44%, which is already a very high number. However, by 2019, only two years later, this figure had increased to 69%. So even if there were improvements in the amount of plastic waste being recycled in Ireland, it would simply be cancelled out by the increasing amount of waste being generated and the increasing proportion of it being sent for incineration.

The dramatic increase in the amount of waste that gets burned has resulted in Irish recycling rates showing a steady downward trend since 2013.

Sharon Finegan, the Director of the EPA’s office of environmental sustainability, has put the responsibility for this onto businesses. She said, “Businesses need to place less packaging on the market. We need to rethink how we make, transport and use products and move to a system where unnecessary packaging is avoided and any remaining packaging is designed either for re-use or recycling.

“Policy commitments to support this such as those outlined in Ireland’s Waste Action Plan for a Circular Economy need to be implemented without delay.”

Eurostat, the data analysis arm of the EU Commission, said that Ireland has the highest rates of plastic waste generation, far exceeding the EU average. Compounding this issue is the fact that Ireland also has the fourth lowest rates of recycling in the EU.

As Sharon Finegan rightly put in, policy change is desperately needed in Ireland; law makers must show commitment to forcing the Irish economy to shift to a more sustainable, circular model. As well as this, change must also come from businesses and from consumers; we must all work to end our reliance on single-use plastics.


The government in Ireland must also work with recyclers such as Let’s Recycle It Ltd to help find sustainable recycling outlets for the waste currently being sent to incineration. The team at Let’s Recycle It have industry leading experience and a vast global network of fully accredited, reputable end users.

As a fully licensed recycler, Let’s Recycle It’s traceable waste management solutions are tailored to the specific needs of each of their suppliers across all industries. Ireland will not only benefit greatly from the environmentally friendly outlets for plastic waste that Let’s Recycle It can provide, but also from the new revenue streams that will be generated for Irish businesses.

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