The Environmental Protection Agency recently published its latest hazardous waste figures for Ireland. The figures show that the amount of hazardous waste generated in Ireland continues to grow, with over 500,000 tonnes of hazardous waste generated in Ireland in 2018, up over 90,000 tonnes in a year. The increase in hazardous waste generated in 2018 was driven mainly by a large increase in the quantity of ash produced from Ireland’s municipal waste incinerators.
- Over 500,000 tonnes of hazardous waste was generated in Ireland in 2018, an increase of an increase of over 90,000 tonnes since 2017.
- Over 100,000 tonnes of hazardous waste was treated at Irish hazardous waste treatment facilities in 2018, an increase of over 25,000 tonnes on the previous year.
- Nearly three-quarters of Ireland’s hazardous waste was exported to other European countries, such the Netherlands, the UK, Germany and Belgium, for final treatment in 2018.
Hazardous waste is produced from a wide variety of sources and covers many waste types. Industry continues to be the largest generator of hazardous waste – producing solvents, sludges, oils and chemicals. Other sectors such as businesses, construction, healthcare, waste incinerators, farms and households also produce a range of hazardous wastes.
Hazardous waste includes lead-acid batteries; waste electrical and electronic equipment, that can contain hazardous materials like heavy metals; healthcare risk waste and incinerator ash. In addition, contaminated soils generated from old industrial sites such as gas works, mines, tanneries, dock yards and petrol stations amounted to almost 18% of all hazardous waste produced in Ireland.
Ireland does not have the range of facilities to deal with all of the hazardous waste generated in the country with nearly three-quarters of our hazardous waste exported to other European countries for treatment in 2018 including the Netherlands, the UK, Germany and Belgium. Over 20% of hazardous waste was treated at Irish hazardous waste treatment facilities in 2018, an increase of 29% on the previous year.
Mary Frances Rochford, Programme Manager said “Striving for more self-sufficiency nationally in the management of Ireland’s hazardous waste is a key action of the National Hazardous Waste Management Plan. While it is encouraging to see an increase in the amount of hazardous waste being treated in Ireland, exports of hazardous waste continue to grow. The increase of ash from waste incineration in 2018, which arose from increased incineration capacity in the country, highlights the need for an end-to-end approach to waste management practices in Ireland and a reduced reliance on waste exports.”
In terms of treatment of Ireland’s hazardous waste:
- 6% was treated on-site at the industrial facility where the waste was generated, under conditions of EPA licence.
- 21% was treated offsite at Irish hazardous waste treatment facilities and
- 73% was treated at facilities in other countries such as the Netherlands, the UK, Germany, Belgium, Norway and France.
The total amount of contaminated soil generated in Ireland in 2018 was 93,645 tonnes, a slight decrease from 2017 (see Figure 4 below). A total of 74,912 tonnes of contaminated soil was exported for treatment and the remainder was treated in Ireland. Contaminated soil accounted for 20% of our hazardous waste exports in 2018.
This soil comes from old industrial sites such as gas works, mines, tanneries, dock yards, petrol stations, etc. and is often contaminated with hazardous chemicals. Contaminated soils must be removed before the site can be used again.
The EPA compiles data on waste generation through direct survey of industry and waste facilities and in cooperation with the National Transfrontier Shipment Office.
Source – Environmental Protection Agency