ISO14001:2015 Internal Auditor Training Course 13th & 14th June 2019

Panther Environmental Solutions Ltd now have a new date for their ISO14001:2015 Internal Auditor Training Course in Carlow.

The course will be held on Thursday and Friday 13th and 14th June 2019.

If you would like to book a space on the course, give us a call on 059-9134222 or you can email me at




Kerry Foods Group

“Panther Environmental Solutions Ltd has worked closely with a number of Kerry sites, both in Ireland and the UK, helping to develop their EMS in line with ISO14001. Mikes depth of knowledge and expertise in this field helped each site not only to achieve accreditation within a relatively short time frame, but more importantly the resulting EMS’s were developed and owned by the sites with Mikes guidance and training so that these are living systems owned by the site management teams.”

                                                    Joe Dunne – Technical & Environmental Director

Effluent Plant Training Course Carlow Friday 21st June 2019

Panther Environmental Solutions Ltd will be holding their next Effluent Plant Training Course at their premises in Carlow on Friday 21st June 2019.

If you would like to know more about this course and how it can be of benefit to you, please give us a call and we’ll be glad to discuss what will be covered and how we can tailor it to suit your needs.

Call us on 059-9134222.


Mike Fraher

Effluent Waste Water Treatment Training Course – Carlow

Panther Environmental Solutions Ltd are holding their next Effluent Waste Water Treatment Training Course at their premises in Carlow on Friday 22nd March 2019.

If you would like to know more about this course and how it can be of benefit to you, please give us a call and we’ll be glad to discuss what will be covered and how we can tailor it to suit your needs.

Call us on 059-9134222


Mike Fraher

New EIA Portal System

A new register of planning applications which include an Environmental Impact Assessment Report (EIAR) is now available online through the Department of Housing Planning and Local Government website.

A circular letter (PL 05/2018), issued by the Department on 27th August 2018, details certain amendments to the planning process following the transposition into planning law of Directive 2014/52/EU amending Directive 2011/92/EU on the effects of certain public and private projects on the environment (the EIA Directive).

The EIA portal is an additional tool to inform the public, in a timely manner, of all EIA applications made countrywide and offshore across all legislative codes, and provides a URL link to the relevant competent authority(s) website where detailed information pertaining to the application is to be found.

Within two weeks prior to making an EIA application to the planning authority/An Bord Pleanála, a developer is required to submit an EIA Portal Notification form to the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government, to the contact email address  A downloadable form, with the applicant’s name and a brief description of the location and the development, whether the development is a linear development, and the name(s) of the competent authority(s) to whom the application will be made:-

– Contact details for the applicant/agent;

– Electronic copy of the public newspaper notice in electronically searchable format, which will be hosted on the Portal to enable interested persons to access the full public notice;

– Electronic copy of the site location map (to assist the Department correctly identify the site, but not to be made publicly available through the Portal).

On submitting application documents to the planning authority/An Bord Pleanála, a developer is required to enclose a copy of the Confirmation Notice issued by the DHPLG to the applicant acknowledging uploading of the information detailed above to the Portal.

The Confirmation Notice issued by the Department is an essential part of the required application documentation, without which the application cannot be validated.


Panther Environmental Solutions Ltd provide the following services:

Environmental Impact Assessment Report

Appropriate Assessment and Natura Impact Assessment

Environmental Liabilities Risk Assessment

Closure, Restoration and Aftercare Management Plan

If you would like to receive further information or a proposal on any of the above services, then please do not hesitate to contact us.


WEEE and Batteries – Enhanced EPA powers to tackle non-compliance

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced that it is ready to start issuing Fixed Payment Notices in the coming weeks to persons and businesses not complying with their obligations under the Waste Electrical & Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Regulations and the Batteries Regulations.

Correct management of waste electrical and electronic equipment and batteries means that hazardous substances found inside can be safely disposed of and that some materials can be reused – saving both resources and energy.
Dr Eimear Cotter, EPA Director of the Office of Environmental Sustainability said,

“Electronics and batteries are everywhere these days. When they reach the end of their useful life, the waste coming from these products needs to be managed properly. Fixed Payment Notices provide an alternative and efficient enforcement option to the EPA to help enforce the relevant regulations. While we may of course still need to take prosecutions, the use of Fixed Payment Notices will allow us to pursue non-compliant companies without having to access the courts. Ultimately, full compliance across the sector is what we want to achieve. This would support the delivery of a circular economy in Ireland where recycling and reuse is maximised.”

This enforcement action will target those who are importing, distributing and selling electrical and electronic equipment and batteries in Ireland, including those who sell online or through catalogues. The amounts associated with Fixed Payment Notices will be vary from €500 to €2,000 for each offence.

Dr Shane Colgan, EPA Senior Manager, said,

“To date, Ireland has been successful in dealing with these wastes, using an effective set of supports and regulations to achieve collection levels in line with EU targets. As the system matures and the collection targets rise, it is important that all importers, distributors and sellers are evenly regulated. The introduction of Fixed Payment Notices provides the EPA with an efficient means for enforcing legal obligations and will improve the targeting of non-compliant operators.”

Commenting on Ireland’s performance on recycling and reuse in the WEEE and batteries sector Shane Colgan concluded,

“Batteries and electrical & electronic equipment contain valuable metals.  If we collect and recycle them after use, we are keeping these important resources in circulation and can use them for future products. The other side of it is that these metals can be toxic in the environment and can cause serious pollution and damage wildlife if carelessly discarded – as well as being an eyesore. Achieving high rates of recycling can be challenging, and while at present we are achieving current targets, these will increase significantly in 2019. Meeting our new recycling targets will take real effort by consumers, retailers and the government but will deliver a real win-win for Ireland in terms of both environmental protection and making the most of earth’s scarce resources.”

For further information see the EPA website at

Further information: Emily Williamson, EPA Media Relations Office 053-9170770 (24 hours) or

Notes to Editor

Waste Electrical & Electronic Equipment (WEEE) legislation: WEEE is one of the fastest growing waste streams in the developed world.  Up to recently, a lot of WEEE was thrown into the bin and disposed of in landfill.  Improved regulation of the collection, recycling and disposal of WEEE has been law at European level (WEEE Directive) and brought into Irish law (WEEE Regulations) since 2005.  New Irish WEEE Regulations were published in March 2014, to implement changes that were introduced in Europe by the second WEEE Directive.

Proper disposal of batteries: Many electrical items are powered by batteries.  Batteries can contain heavy metals (mercury, cadmium, lead), which are the main cause for environmental concern.  If waste batteries are not disposed of correctly, heavy metals may leak when the battery corrodes, and so can contribute to soil and water pollution and endanger human health.  Due to the hazardous nature of batteries, separate legislation for the management of waste batteries was transposed into Irish law in 2008. The Battery Regulations include all types of batteries, such as portable, industrial and automotive.

Enforcement roles under the WEEE regulations and the Batteries regulations are assigned between the EPA and local authorities.

Obligations of Businesses

The regulations governing the management of WEEE and waste batteries cast a wide net. Those who import and place Electrical and Electronic Equipment (EEE) and/or batteries on the Irish market (known as producers) are obligated, as are retailers, internet and catalogue sellers (known as distance sellers).

Producers must, among other things, register with Producer Register Limited (, make a monthly declaration of the quantities of EEE and/or batteries placed on the market and finance the environmentally sound management of WEEE and batteries – which can be done by self-compliance or by joining a compliance scheme, either WEEE Ireland or ERP Ireland.

Amongst the obligations for a retail business are the need to take back waste electrical and electronic equipment and batteries from consumers, to correctly store and keep records of take back, to register with a compliance scheme that will ensure the correct management of any WEEE taken back and to display certain information signage in store.

Those who sell from a distance (for example via websites) can fall into the producer or the retailer category and consequently have their own obligations. Distance sellers who sell from one Member State to another are required to appoint a representative in the Member State into which they are selling, to fulfil the obligations of the regulations in that Member State.

Taking for example, the offence by an EEE producer of failing to register with the registration body (Producer Register Limited): the Agency will now be able to issue a Fixed Payment Notice for that offence, for which the amount that may be payable is €2,000 without having to take court action.

Published by: EPA

Date released: Oct 09 2018


Panther Environmental Solutions Ltd provide the following services:-

EIAR – Environmental Impact Assessment Report

Appropriate Assessment and Natura Impact Assessment

Environmental Liabilities Risk Assessment

If you would like further information or a costing on any of the above services, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Raw sewage still being discharged into waters in 38 areas

Wastewater from the country’s two biggest cities is failing to meet treatment standards, damaging the environment and posing a health and safety risk.

And the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says raw sewage from the equivalent of 88,000 people living in 38 towns and villages continues to flow into waters every day.

Despite a “legacy of under- investment” and the State facing legal action from the European Commission for failing to meet mandatory standards, the EPA says improvements are not happening at a fast enough pace.

“It is unacceptable that, 13 years after the final deadline to comply with treatment standards, there are still large towns and cities discharging inadequately treated sewage that fails to meet these standards,” director of the EPA’s office of environmental enforcement Dr Tom Ryan said.

“This is putting our health at risk and is having an impact on our rivers, lakes and coastal waters.”

The Urban Wastewater Treatment in 2017 report shows that wastewater generated in 28 large towns and cities – which accounts for more than half of the total sewage collected – failed to meet mandatory standards. These areas include Dublin, Cork, Arklow and Tralee.

Ireland was supposed to comply with the required standards by 2005, and is currently before the EU Court of Justice for breaching these requirements.

Some 38 towns and villages are also discharging raw sewage, including Roundstone and Spiddal in Co Galway, Kilmore Quay in Co Waterford, Falcarragh in Co Donegal and Castletownbere in Co Cork. Irish Water has been prosecuted for delays in providing treatment in six of the 38 areas.

In another 57 locations, wastewater discharges are the only environmental threat to rivers, lakes and coastal waters.

Upgrades are required to protect four beaches across the State, including Clifden in Co Galway and Merrion Strand, Loughshinny and Sandymount Strand in Co Dublin.

There are also risks to freshwater pearl mussels and shellfish habitats, while 13 sewer networks also need to be upgraded.

The report says that Irish Water has made progress in reducing the number of priority areas where treatment needs to improve, down from 148 to 132.

In addition, the number of areas not meeting the EU directive fell to 28 from 40, while investment in upgraded and new treatment plants is yielding results.

But the EPA said a “substantial increase” in investment was required to provide the necessary infrastructure.

In addition, Irish Water needed to improve its understanding of the condition of sewers to help focus upgrades to where they were most needed.

Head of asset management at Irish Water, Sean Laffey, said it had built or upgraded 55 wastewater treatment plants at 55 locations across the country since 2014.

He said the utility focused investment on areas not compliant with European standards and where raw sewage was being discharged. Admitting that progress had been slow in some cases, he insisted it had a plan to deal with non-compliance.

“In some cases, progress has been slower than we would like due to complex conditions, planning and other issues, but Irish Water has a plan for every area,” he said. “The size and scale of the challenge we have faced has been considerable, but we have developed solutions to support the safe return of wastewater to the environment.”

Irish Independent

Paul Melia

October 23 2018 2:30 AM


Panther Environmental Solutions Ltd also provide the below services:

Environmental Impact Assessment Report (EIAR)

Appropriate Assessment & Natura Impact Assessment

If you should require further information on any of the above services, then please do not hesitate to contact us.

Greater focus on protecting our most pristine waters is needed, says EPA

Date released: Jun 20 2018

Greater focus on protecting our most pristine waters is needed, says EPA

The new Water Indicators’ Report for Ireland reveals:

  • a slight increase in pristine river sites, up to 23 from the 21 sites reported in the last EPA Water Quality in Ireland Report.  This increase, however, comes against a backdrop of a 10-fold decline in the number of these high quality sites from over 500 in the 1980s;
  • continued eradication of serious pollution –  five seriously polluted river water bodies in 2014–2016 compared to 91 water bodies in the late 1980s;
  • an additional 1% of river water bodies (23 water bodies) falling below good status, as compared with the results in the last Water Quality in Ireland Report.  This result indicates an increasing challenge in meeting the objectives of the recently published River Basin Management Plan;
  • the maintenance of a long-term downward trend in the number of fish kills;
  • the presence of faecal contamination in over 40% of national groundwater monitoring sites.  This result highlights the need for homeowners to check and if necessary treat their well water before consumption;
  • the continuing presence of nutrient pollution in a quarter of our rivers and lakes and a third of our estuaries and coastal waters.

20 June 2018:  The EPA has today released a new water indicators’ report for Ireland.  The 16 indicators in the report provide information on the quality of Ireland’s rivers, lakes, estuaries, beaches and groundwaters.  These indicators will help identify the right actions for the protection and improvement of water quality in Ireland and will help track progress with the implementation of the recent National River Basin Management Plan 2018-2021.

The indicators present the current state and trends in water quality for each water category.  The report supplements the information provided in the EPA’s triennial Water Quality in Ireland reports.

Commenting on the report, Dr Matt Crowe, Director of the EPA’s Office of Evidence and Assessment said:

“We all have a connection to water, be it our local beach, river, lake or the well that supplies our family and our animals with drinking water.  Making sure that these waters are clean and well protected is critically important to our health and our wellbeing. Water also supports many important economic activities such as agriculture, manufacturing and tourism.  These indicators help us track progress in protecting and improving this vital national asset.”

Addressing the main findings of the assessment, Andy Fanning, Programme Manager, EPA Office of Evidence and Assessment said,

“Pollution caused by excess nutrients entering waters remains a key challenge.  These nutrients come predominantly from our farms, towns and villages. The commitments and actions identified in the recent National River Basin Management Plan 2018-2021 must now be implemented to halt deterioration of water quality and to make the necessary improvements where needed.  This will require collaboration across a wide range of stakeholders. By doing this, the right action can be taken in the right place by the right people and organisations to improve and enhance our waters for all.”

Dr Shane O’Boyle, Senior Scientist, EPA Office of Evidence and Assessment said:

“The indicators’ report highlights the need for more focus on the protection of our highest quality waters.  The EPA welcomes the commitment in the National River Basin Management Plan 2018-2021 to establish a local authority led ‘Blue Dot’ Catchments programme to focus efforts and resources on these important waters.  The EPA will work with local authorities and other stakeholders to help identify the local pressures impacting on these high status waters and to formulate solutions.”

The report is available on the EPA website and the accompanying data are available on Local information on water quality is available on-line through the EPA website and

Further information: Niamh Hatchell/Emily Williamson, EPA Media Relations Office 053-9170770 (24 hours) or

Notes to Editor

Water Indicator Reports: This is the first water indicators’ report published by the EPA in 10 years.  It is intended to publish this report annually.  It will complement and support the EPA’s Water Quality in Ireland reports, produced every three years.  All reports are available on the EPA website.

Main causes of pollution: The assessment shows that elevated levels of nutrients (phosphorus and nitrogen) in waters continues to be the most widespread water quality problem in Ireland. Nutrient losses from agriculture and wastewater discharges, together with physical habitat issues, are the primary reasons why the water quality objectives of the Water Framework Directive are not being met.  In relation to agriculture, the pressures relate to diffuse nutrient run-off, sediment from land and point sources associated with farmyards. For wastewater, the main pressure is from urban wastewater discharges and diffuse urban discharges (which include misconnections leading to sewage effluent being discharged to surface water drainage systems).

For further information see the Executive Summary or the water quality assessments on

National River Basin Management Plan: Further information about the National River Basin Management Plan is available on the Department of Housing, Planning, Communities and Local Government website. A collaborative EPA, Local Authority Waters and Communities Office and Department of Housing, Planning, Communities and Local Government website that is used to share information and resources on water in Ireland. It includes water quality assessments undertaken by the EPA for the Water Framework Directive.

Water Framework Directive: The Water Framework Directive (WFD) is the primary Directive that sets out water quality objectives and common metrics for assessing and reporting on the quality of freshwater in Europe. These assessments are undertaken on a six-yearly cycle, with the outcomes reported by each country in their respective River Basin Management Plans.

Significant pressures: Activities, such as wastewater discharges, industrial discharges or agriculture, that are identified as being significant contributors to surface water or groundwater bodies failing to meet their WFD objectives.

“Bad” category: The WFD category that indicates the worst surface water quality, which are regarded as being seriously polluted.

“Pristine” waters: The best quality waters are assigned a high status WFD category, and a portion of these high status water bodies are defined as being pristine. Sometimes they are also referred to as “Q5” sites (achieving an ecological quality score of 5/5) or reference condition sites, and they are regarded as being largely un-impacted by human activities.

‘Blue Dot’ Catchments Programme: The EPA assigns the colour blue to river waters at high quality in water quality maps.  The aim of the ‘Blue Dot’ programme is to protect and restore high ecological status to a network of river and lake catchments.   The programme is a key action under the National River Basin Management Plan 2017-2021.,64132,en.html

EPA supports Europe-wide Pollutant Release and Transfer Register by publishing latest releases from industrial activities

EPA supports Europe-wide Pollutant Release and Transfer Register by publishing latest releases from industrial activities

Date released: Jul 10 2018

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has published environmental data on Ireland’s national pollutant release and transfer register (PRTR). This is a public register of pollutant releases and waste transfers from large industrial activities in Ireland. This information supports EU-wide reporting through the European Commission’s e-Register website, which contains data reported annually by more than 30,000 industrial facilities across the EU.

Covering 91 pollutants from 397 large industrial facilities in Ireland, the data indicates trends across a number of key parameters. In particular, there is a trend towards recovery treatment rather than disposal in hazardous waste management for relevant facilities. It also shows that recovery of hazardous waste within Ireland increased by 49 per cent in 2016.  In addition, the total hazardous waste transferred outside Ireland for recovery increased by 33 per cent in 2016.

While recovery increased by 5 per cent for non-hazardous waste from relevant facilities in 2016, the total waste transferred from PRTR facilities for disposal increased by 8 per cent. This is reflective of increased economic activity.

Patrick Geoghegan, EPA Senior Manager said:

The register contributes to transparency and public participation in environmental decision-making. The aim of the register is to make information on industrial emissions more accessible and to help the public be better informed.  The register is also intended to create greater transparency among stakeholders and incentivise industry to establish clean production techniques and abatement to reduce emissions.

Further information on the PRTR Register
Irish Pollutant Release and Transfer Register (PRTR)
European E-PRTR

Further information: EPA Media Relations Office 053-9170770 (24 hours) or

Notes to Editor

Pollutant Release and Transfer Register (PRTR): The data contained within the Register does not present an assessment of environmental performance at any particular facility, nor does it assess the impact of reported emissions on the local/national environment.  EPA licensed operations are regulated and monitored by the EPA’s Office of Environmental Enforcement in accordance with licence conditions.

The register allows the public to search facilities by the nature of their activity, their location, the operator and the type of environmental emission. It aims to enhance public access to environmental information and thereby contribute to the prevention and reduction of environmental releases, inform policy development and facilitate public participation in environmental decision-making.

Key highlights:

  • The figures show a total of 397 facilities were reported to the EPA compared to 384 for 2015. The increase is reflective of increased economic activity and regulation of facilities.
  • The Energy sector contributed 55% of the total PRTR Nitrogen Oxide (NOx) and 74% of Sulphur Oxide (SOx) releases to air. Such pollutants are derived from high temperature fuel combustion from power generation activities.
  • Ammonia (NH3) releases to air were predominantly reported from the intensive livestock production sector.
  • Nutrient releases to water (e.g. total nitrogen and total phosphorus) were mainly reported from large urban (city) wastewater treatment plants.
  • Total Heavy metal releases to waters including cadmium, chromium, copper, lead, nickel, zinc and arsenic decreased by 28% between 2015 and 2016.
  • The total hazardous waste tonnage, transferred from PRTR facilities for recovery within Ireland increased by 49% from 25,556 tonnes in 2015 to 38,087 tonnes in 2016.  Hazardous waste transfers sent for disposal within
  • Ireland decreased by 29% from 10,444 tonnes in 2015 to 7,367 tonnes in 2016. This reflects a combination of increased economic activity in 2016 and potentially, an increased movement towards recovery treatment rather than disposal.
  • The total hazardous waste transferred from PRTR facilities, for recovery, to facilities outside Ireland increased by 33% from 84,593 tonnes in 2015 to 112,347 tonnes in 2016.
  • For non-hazardous waste the total waste transferred from PRTR facilities for recovery increased by 5% from 3.19 million tonnes in 2015 to 3.36 million tonnes in 2016.
  • For non-hazardous waste, the total waste transferred from PRTR facilities for disposal increased by 8% from 1.38 million tonnes in 2015 to 1.49 million tonnes in 2016.

E-PRTR Regulation:
The European Communities (European Pollutant Release and Transfer Register) Regulations, 2007, S.I. No. 123 of 2007) signed into Irish Law on the 22nd March 2007 the E-PRTR Regulation, (EC) No. 166/2006, concerning the establishment of a European Pollutant Release and Transfer Register.

PRTR Regulations 2011 (S.I. No. 649 of 2011) signed into law on the 13th December 2011, established an Irish pollutant release and transfer register in the form of a publicly accessible electronic database.

The E-PRTR Regulation has a number of principal objectives, as set out in Article 1 of the Regulation:

Article 1
Subject matter

This Regulation establishes an integrated pollutant release and transfer register at Community level in the form of a publicly accessible electronic database and lays down rules for its functioning, in order to implement the UNECE Protocol on Pollutant Release and Transfer Registers and facilitate public participation in environmental decision-making, as well as contributing to the prevention and reduction of pollution of the environment.

Annex 1 of the PRTR Regulation (EC) No. 166 of 2006 lists the activities which are subject to reporting under E-PRTR.

Annex 2 of the E-PRTR Regulation lists the 91 substances that are subject to reporting under E-PRTR, above specified release thresholds.,64262,en.html

Stop Food Waste – Make the most of your Food

Irish householders on average throw out €700 worth of food every year. This week the EPA is running an awareness campaign called Food: Make the Most of It, highlighting food waste issues and encouraging everyone to make the most of their food.

Odile Le Bolloch from the EPA said,

“Many people have resolved to be a little greener this year and tackling your food waste is a good place to start. If every day each of us tries to reduce the amount of waste we dispose of, this has the potential to have a real impact. Our campaign this week includes providing practical tips to make the most of our food. Reducing food waste offers simple and no cost actions that anyone can take. You don’t need to invest in expensive equipment before you start reaping the benefits. Remember, when it comes to reducing food waste you can stop throwing your money away!”

Though the individual amounts may seem small, when added up the total volume of food waste produced in Ireland every year adds up to over 1 million tonnes. Some of the most common types of food we throw away include meat and fish, dairy products, bread, and fruit and vegetables. Stop Food Waste has developed an A – Z of Foods, a handy resource that provides ingredient specific tips to make the most of these common food items that often go to waste. The A-Z of Foods provides information about buying, storing, freezing, cooking and using up foods – from Apples to Yoghurt.

Speaking about the campaign, Laura Burke, Director General, EPA said,

“The EPA is committed to providing leadership and support towards reducing food waste through our Stop Food Waste programme. Stop Food Waste has been raising awareness, engaging communities and small businesses and building capacity for food waste prevention around the country. Through the Stop Food Waste Challenge, for example, communities are working together to learn and share ideas about reducing food waste. And for food waste that cannot be prevented, Master Composters around the country are trained on all aspects of home composting.”

Led by existing good practice and strong political commitment, people are being encouraged to take action and achieve an Ireland where food is consumed, not wasted.  The Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Denis Naughten T.D. said,

“Raising awareness about the common foods that people throw away and the good habits people can adopt to reduce food waste in their homes is important. I am delighted to support the Stop Food Waste awareness week. Reducing food waste has been a key priority for me since coming into office. This week’s campaign urging people to make the most of their food will not only show people how they can reduce their weekly shopping bills, it will have an impact on reducing food waste disposal underpinning our ongoing commitment to reducing household waste.”

Notes to Editor

Why food waste?

The complex reasons for food waste, the scale of it, make this a tough problem to tackle. Food waste can arise for many reasons at various points in the food supply chain. For example, at the early stages of agricultural production, crops may be grown which are never harvested, or they may be harvested but wasted due to damage or fluctuations in demand. Retailers may throw away out of date or imperfect stock, and restaurants may throw away food left on plates by their customers. Householders can throw away food because they buy too much or don’t use it on time.  Often businesses and householders may not be aware of the amount of the food waste they produce. Each group will have their own solutions for reducing food waste.

Stop Food Waste Programme

See Community groups can sign up to take the Stop Food Waste Challenge.

UN’s Sustainable Development Goals

The EPA plays a significant role as part of Ireland’s team in working towards achieving the food waste reduction goal of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.  Ireland is among 200 countries that has signed up to achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.  These goals include a specific commitment on food waste: “By 2030, halve per capita global food waste at the retail and consumer levels and reduce food losses along production and supply chains, including postharvest losses.”

Sourced: EPA

E-Waste: one of the fastest growing waste streams in the world

Electronic waste – commonly known as e-waste – is one of the world’s fastest growing waste streams. In 2016, we produced 44.7 million metric tonnes (MT) of e-waste – the equivalent of almost 4,500 Eiffel towers.

This towering pile, made up of the likes of computers, printers, televisions, mobile phones, and refrigerators, is set to continue to rise into the next century. According to the recently published Global E-Waste Monitor for 2017, over 52 million MT of e-waste will be produced in 2021.

Equally concerning is the fact that only 20 per cent of this waste, which contains chemicals and high-value materials such as gold, silver, copper, and platinum, was collected and recycled.

With these worrying global figures coming into focus, The Green News asks how does Ireland fare in the e-waste picture.

Ireland’s Record

Ireland is doing particularly well among EU member states since the introduction of Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive (WEEE) in 2005. In the first ten years since the introduction of the WEEE Directive, our small nation collected over 300,000 tonnes of e-waste, twice the EU target.

Worryingly, however, half of the country’s e-waste still remains unaccounted for or missing. Dr Colin Fitzpatrick of University of Limerick’s (UL) Faculty of Science & Engineering fears that a portion of this e-waste goes through “an unofficial, non-compliant recycling channel”.

“For example, if somebody has an old washing machine they may just bring it to a scrap metal merchant who shouldn’t legally take it but often does,” he told The Green News.

Dr Fitzpatrick, who co-hosted the UN University E-waste Academy at UL in 2016, said that a significant portion of Ireland’s unaccounted e-waste comes from the likes of mobile phones and other small electronic appliances. According to a 2015 report from the Countering WEEE Illegal Trade (CWIT) project, one in four Irish people throw electronic waste in the bin or store it at home.

Martin Reddy agrees that the issue is a “major concern”. The Chief Executive of RECOSI, a not for profit which refurbishes and reuses IT and electronics equipment, said that many people don’t even realise that they are keeping “hazardous” e-waste in their homes.

“We are doing a great job on larger items like washing machines but the smaller items that you can sit in the drawer, that is where my big concern is,” Mr Reddy added. He is also concerned that old mobile phone batteries are being thrown in domestic bins, ending up in landfill where heavy metals inside the batteries can contribute to soil and water pollution.

Consumption rates rising 

The rapid pace of technological advancement is only adding to this issue as people choose to replace their old, functioning devices with upgraded versions on an increasingly frequent basis, Dr Fitzpatrick warned. According to the latest Global E-waste Monitor, the average lifecycle for a smartphone in the EU, USA, and China is a maximum of 18 to 24 months.

Dr Fitzpatrick said that he is concerned with the “extent of electronic consumption” in Ireland, pointing to the increasing popularity of retail promotions such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday. “When I look at Black Friday, I think of the amount of energy that it takes to manufacture all the stuff people are going to buy.”

“E-waste is the natural result of consumption. We should consume less electronics in general because then we are using less energy in manufacturing and save resources,” he added.

Illegal Exports

It is currently illegal to export e-waste from the EU to developing countries under the Basel Convention, an international treaty to reduce the movement of hazardous waste across the world.

However, according to both Mr Reddy and Dr Fitzpatrick, a portion of Europe’s missing e-waste eventually ends up in developing countries, where, due to a lack of resources, e-waste is often not correctly recycled.

This fear is echoed by Dr Federico Magalini, a Research Associate at the UN University’s Solving the E-waste Problem project, who told The Green News that e-waste treatment in such countries remains a concern. Dr Magalini, who is also managing director of a sustainability consulting firm in the UK, added that the standard of recycling methods is one of his most significant concerns regarding e-waste.

“I am much more concerned by the fact that in many cases e-waste is not always treated using the technologies and infrastructures available,” he said. “In the majority of cases, players who invest in proper technologies and standards face unfair competition from other informal recyclers who simply take the ‘quick & dirty’ approach.”

Re-use and other Solutions

In order to help bring down the amount of e-waste sent for recycling, Dr Fitzpatrick is keen to see an increase in the level of e-waste sent to companies who will re-use the electronic products.

RECOSI, for example, collects e-waste from companies through the “pay it forward” initiative, rebuilding old IT equipment and donating them to disadvantaged schools, charities, and community groups.

Dr Fitzpatrick has also set up an eco-friendly website – – to sell high-quality refurbished IT equipment. “Buy refurbished if you can, consider if you really need it and recycle your old stuff in an official recycling channel,” he added.

He also suggests that the Government should make it easier for the general public to recycle e-waste material. “We’re asking people to drive to civic community sites with e-waste whereas with glass you could do it in your local supermarket, so I think it needs to be more normalised and aligned with existing recycling behaviours.”


Panther Environmental Solutions