Food Waste

Nearly 100 million tonnes of food are wasted annually in the EU (estimate for 2012). If nothing is done, food waste could rise to over 120 million tonnes by 2020. Wasting food is not only an ethical and economic issue but it also depletes the environment of limited natural resources.

Food waste is potentially the largest un-tapped recyclable component of the municipal waste stream and there are mature and available recovery techniques in place to deal with it, such as composting and anaerobic digestion.

Legislation has been in place since 2013 to deal with household food waste and bio-waste which built on the commercial food waste regulations introduced in 2009 (S.I. No. 508 of 2009). The ultimate purpose of both regulations is to support the fulfilment of Ireland’s obligations under the EU Landfill Directive (Directive 99/31/EC). That Directive requires increasing volumes of biodegradable municipal waste to be diverted away from landfill sites. The regulations, amended in 2015 (S.I. No. 430 of 2015), are designed to promote the segregation and recovery of food waste in line with national policy.

The household food waste regulations impose obligations on householders, waste collectors and waste treatment facilities. Householders are obliged to segregate their food waste, and make it available for separate collection. Alternatively householders may compost the food waste at home; or bring it themselves to authorised treatment facilities (such as civic amenity sites or anaerobic digestion sites).

The roll-out of the brown bin is being phased in on a progressive basis, and began on 1st July 2013. The timetable for when the regulations take effect is as follows:

  • 1st July 2013 for population centres > 25,000 persons;
  • 31st December 2013 for population centres > 20,000 persons;
  • 1st July 2014 for population centres > 10,000 persons;
  • 1st July 2015 for population centres > 1,500 persons, and
  • 1st July 2016 for population centres > 500 persons.

By July 2016, brown bins will be rolled out to most towns and villages. Only very small population areas, or small islands, will be exempt, because it is not technically, environmentally or economically practical to separately collect such waste in these areas.

Further information is available from the following sources: