Food Waste Recycling in Ireland – A stunted opportunity primed for growth 01.06.2022

Pictured at the launch of the Cré report are Tony Breton (Chair of Cré), Ossian Smyth, Minister of State with special responsibility for Communications and Circular Economy & Percy Foster (CEO of Cré)

Over 300,000 tonnes of municipal organic waste collected last year in Ireland

Less than 15% of wasted food recycled in Ireland

Exports of organic waste contribute over 1 million road truck kilometres


Yesterday at the St. Stephen Green Club, Dublin, Cré published a report which show despite recent growth and improvements in food waste collection Ireland is lagging in its ability to deliver true climate benefits by limiting the amount recycled locally. Data shows that of the 300,000 tonnes of municipal food and garden waste collected in Ireland in 2020 over 100,000 tonnes of it was exported to facilities in Northern Ireland.  Whilst being legally acceptable and still able to contribute to Ireland’s national recycling targets, the result is organic recycling facilities in Ireland are being pushed to the brink.

The Environmental Protection Agency report[1] estimates that Ireland generates approximately 1 million tonnes of food waste. In Ireland we are currently collecting under a third of this and recycling less than half locally into quality compost and digestate which can be used in the agriculture as a soil improver, fertiliser replacement or as a peat replacement in the horticultural sector. To add to the environmental impact of not seizing this opportunity to the max, exports to the north contribute over 1 million road truck kilometres a year.

Tony Breton (Chair of Cré) said “Ireland has to recognise the economic and environmental opportunities which are thrown away everyday as garden and food wastes. It is failure of common sense when organic waste, which can be transformed locally is transported hundred of kilometres to save someone a few euro with complete disregard for the pollution, local job losses and creation of barriers to local investment it causes.”

Quality composts and digestates are available today to supply nutrients and organic matter which benefit our soils whilst helping farmers avoid the costs of expensive fossil fuel based chemical fertilisers.

Keith Swan from the conservation agriculture farming group BASE Ireland said “as the beginning and end of the compost & digestate chain, we feel it would be if huge advantage to Irish farmers and their soils, to have food and garden wastes recycled locally. This would assist in closing the nutrient loop in agriculture and build carbon content in Irish soils”

Tony said “We call on everyone to support National Food Waste Recycling Week and to separate correctly their food and garden waste into their brown bin but equally we call on government to take the opportunity of the Circular Economy Bill to enable investable local solutions to create the high value, high quality organic fertilisers and soil improvers demanded by Irish farmers.”


* – 1 million kilometre calculation. The Cré report identified a net of 93KT organic waste exports to NI from Ireland. Considering, the max payload of 1 truck is 26T, and the distance from Dublin to Belfast of 166KM, you have 3576 truck movements in each direction. 3576x2x166=1187232 KM. It is clearly an estimation, it is not possible under the current transparency rules to fully understand the movement of waste inter and intra Ireland.


Percy Foster, Chief Executive


T: 086812960

Notes to Editors:

About the Cré – Composting and Anaerobic Digestion Association of Ireland CLG

Established in 2001, Cré is the Composting and Anaerobic Digestion Association of Ireland. Cré (which is the Irish word for ‘soil’), is a non-profit association of public and private organisations, dedicated to growing the biological treatment sector. Cré supports the production of high-quality outputs, assists the delivery of Government waste diversion and bioenergy targets, and promotes the creation of sustainable indigenous jobs.

Cré has a broad membership base ranging from compost and anaerobic digestion facilities, waste companies, local authorities, technology providers, local authorities, consultants and third level colleges. Cré is recognised by Government and agencies as the voice of the industry in Ireland and Northern Ireland. It is frequently called on to give the industry view on future policy and legislation. Cré is a member of the European Compost Network, the World Biogas Association, the European Biogas Association and the World Compost Alliance. Cré has a Board of Directors and technical committees. See      

[1] NWPP-Food-Waste-Report.pdf (