The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has published environmental data on Ireland’s national pollutant release and transfer register (PRTR). This is a public register of pollutant releases and waste transfers from large industrial activities in Ireland. This information supports EU-wide reporting through the European Commission’s e-Register website, which contains data reported annually by more than 30,000 industrial facilities across the EU.
For each facility, information is provided concerning the amount of pollutant releases to air, water and waste water as well as off-site transfers of waste, from a list of 91 PRTR pollutants including heavy metals, pesticides, greenhouse gases and dioxins for the years 2007-2016.
Covering 91 pollutants from 397 large industrial facilities in Ireland, the data indicates trends across a number of key parameters. In particular, there is a trend towards recovery treatment rather than disposal in hazardous waste management for relevant facilities. It also shows that recovery of hazardous waste within Ireland increased by 49 per cent in 2016. In addition, the total hazardous waste transferred outside Ireland for recovery increased by 33 per cent in 2016.
While recovery increased by 5 per cent for non-hazardous waste from relevant facilities in 2016, the total waste transferred from PRTR facilities for disposal increased by 8 per cent. This is reflective of increased economic activity.
- The figures show a total of 397 facilities were reported to the EPA compared to 384 for 2015. The increase is reflective of increased economic activity and regulation of facilities.
- The Energy sector contributed 55% of the total PRTR Nitrogen Oxide (NOx) and 74% of Sulphur Oxide (SOx) releases to air. Such pollutants are derived from high temperature fuel combustion from power generation activities.
- Ammonia (NH3) releases to air were predominantly reported from the intensive livestock production sector.
- Nutrient releases to water (e.g. total nitrogen and total phosphorus) were mainly reported from large urban (city) wastewater treatment plants.
- Total Heavy metal releases to waters including cadmium, chromium, copper, lead, nickel, zinc and arsenic decreased by 28% between 2015 and 2016.
- The total hazardous waste tonnage, transferred from PRTR facilities for recovery within Ireland increased by 49% from 25,556 tonnes in 2015 to 38,087 tonnes in 2016. Hazardous waste transfers sent for disposal within
- Ireland decreased by 29% from 10,444 tonnes in 2015 to 7,367 tonnes in 2016. This reflects a combination of increased economic activity in 2016 and potentially, an increased movement towards recovery treatment rather than disposal.
- The total hazardous waste transferred from PRTR facilities, for recovery, to facilities outside Ireland increased by 33% from 84,593 tonnes in 2015 to 112,347 tonnes in 2016.
- For non-hazardous waste the total waste transferred from PRTR facilities for recovery increased by 5% from 3.19 million tonnes in 2015 to 3.36 million tonnes in 2016.
- For non-hazardous waste, the total waste transferred from PRTR facilities for disposal increased by 8% from 1.38 million tonnes in 2015 to 1.49 million tonnes in 2016.