Composting and Anaerobic Digestion of waste continues to grow

  • The quantity of biodegradable waste accepted for composting and anaerobic digestion increased by 11 per cent between 2013 and 2015.
  • Kitchen & canteen food waste and park & garden waste accounted for the majority (65%) of waste accepted for treatment in 2015.
  • Most biodegradable waste was treated by composting rather than anaerobic digestion.
  • The amount of municipal organic waste exported to Northern Ireland for treatment increased almost eight-fold between 2013 and 2015.

The EPA has today released 2015 figures on composting and anaerobic digestion of biodegradable waste in Ireland, coinciding with the opening of the Global Organic Resources Congress in Dublin.

The quantity of biodegradable waste sent for composting and anaerobic digestion increased by 11% between 2013 and 2015 (from 271,000 tonnes to 300,000 tonnes). In 2015 65% of biodegradable waste came from municipal sources (kitchen & canteen food waste, garden & park waste), 16% from waste water treatment plant sludges and 8 per cent from the production of beverages.

Composting and anaerobic digestion of “brown-bin” commercial and household organic waste continues to increase, with 143,000 tonnes accepted in 2015, an increase of 25% on the 2013 level. The figures also show an increasing trend towards exporting “brown-bin” waste for recovery in Northern Ireland, with 22% (31,000 tonnes) of total “brown-bin” waste generated being exported there.

Commenting on the figures, Stephen Treacy, EPA, said: “The EPA welcomes the increasing amount of biodegradable waste being recovered at composting and anaerobic digestion facilities. In addition to the jobs created, energy recovery (biogas generated at anaerobic digestion plants) can help displace fossil fuel imports. Anaerobic digestion uptake is low by international standards but is an important part of the mix of solutions if we are to decarbonise our society by 2050.”

Stephen Treacy added, “Timely figures such as those published today on treatment of organic waste are an important tool for stakeholders and policymakers. The segregation and recovery of biodegradable waste rather than its disposal to landfill is critical for Ireland’s move to a circular economy. The increasing roll out of the brown – organic waste – bin to householders and commercial premises will contribute to this positive development.”