Business Irish

Wednesday 18 September 2019

Ireland remains one of EU's top waste exporters, reports Eurostat

All sorts of hazardous waste are a by-product of construction
John Mulligan

John Mulligan

You can see the legacy of Ireland's house-building boom in any number of statistics.

The European Union's statistics agency, Eurostat, has just updated its shipments of hazardous waste figures for the region, confirming that, up to 2012, Ireland remained one of the biggest exporters of such material.

The data shows that in 2012 Ireland exported 193,400 tonnes of hazardous waste to destinations outside its own borders. The data doesn't show this as a percentage of the overall level of hazardous waste exported as a percentage of that produced by each country.

Ireland's figure for 2012 ranks it ninth for the biggest such exporters among EU member states.

Top of the league is France, which exported 985,300 tonnes of hazardous waste, closely followed by Italy, with 976,800.

The Netherlands was next, with 788,500 tonnes, then Belgium, with 631,100 tonnes.

Per capita, Luxembourg is the biggest exporter of hazardous waste, at 194kg per person. Belgium is next, at 57kg, then the Netherlands at 47kg, and Ireland is fourth at 38kg.

Go back to 2007 and 2008 and the house-building frenzy is evident in the figures.

All sorts of hazardous waste are a by-product of construction, such as plasterboard, paint and adhesive.

In 2007, Ireland exported 322,500 tonnes of hazardous waste.

The following year, the figure jumped to 575,600. But as construction halted suddenly, so too did the exports.

In 2009, the figure slumped to 190,900 tonnes.

The trend is evident among other countries in the EU.

In the Netherlands, which had its own housing bubble, hazardous waste exports hit 3.2m tonnes in 2005, falling to 2.7m tonnes in 2009 and then continuing to tumble until 2012.

All the hazardous waste can't be attributed to construction, but undoubtedly construction in Ireland and the Netherlands contributed significantly to the generation of such material during the housing bubbles.

But the declines in hazardous waste exports are also due to the fact that some waste previously reported as hazardous was in fact non-hazardous.

The data shows that between 2001 and 2012, the amount of hazardous waste shipments from EU member states to other member states increased 66pc to 5.24m tonnes.

About 95pc of the hazardous waste exports from EU members states in 2012 were shipped to other EU countries.

Eurostat also points out that the period from 2001 to 2007 is characterised by growing shipments of hazardous waste for both disposal and recovery.

"Since the financial and economic crisis began started in 2008, there has been a 20pc decrease," the agency pointed out.

Exports of all notified waste from EU countries rose from 6.3m tonnes in 2001 to 13.8m tonnes in 2012.

That includes hazardous waste, household waste, and residues from the incineration of household waste.

Irish Independent

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