Waste management is one of the most problematic and challenging environmental issues in Ireland at the present time. Historically, we have
had inadequate waste management planning, were almost completely dependent on poorly managed, cheap landfill and had little or no awareness that individuals should take responsibility for their own waste.
When Ireland was ignoring the waste issue, our European neighbours were developing and implementing sustainable integrated waste management practices. These practices have used a variety of waste solutions, and have achieved very high levels of recycling.
The adoption of the Waste Management Act in 1996 provided the turning point for waste management in Ireland (especially considering that the previous piece of primary legislation governing waste management was the Public Health Act of 1878!). Following the Waste
Management Act 1996, policies and regulations developed. These have helped set the agenda for the modernisation of all aspects of waste management in Ireland.
Ireland’s delay, in relation to some of its European counterparts, in developing modern waste management techniques had its advantages.
Before the Waste Management Plans were introduced, we had the opportunity to explore the best waste management practices that exist throughout Europe. The adoption of the Regional Waste Management Plans was a major leap forward in that regard, as they established the framework to bring waste management in Ireland in line with the objectives of EU Policy, legislation and best practice.