The Composting and Anaerobic Digestion Association of Ireland (Cré) has called on the government to enable local recycling solutions to create high-quality organic fertilisers and soil improvers.

Less than half of collected food waste in Ireland is recycled locally into quality compost and digestate, which can replace chemical fertilisers or peat in horticulture, according to Cré.

The association has today (Wednesday, June 1), published a report which shows that Ireland is lagging in its ability to deliver true climate benefits by limiting the amount recycled locally.

Despite recent growth and improvements in food-waste collection, less than 15% of wasted food is recycled in Ireland, according to Cré.

Chair of Cré, Tony Breton said Ireland has to recognise the economic and environmental opportunities which are thrown away everyday as garden and food waste. He added:

“It is failure of common sense when organic waste, which can be transformed locally, is transported hundreds 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.”

A total of 300,000t of municipal food and garden waste were collected nationwide in 2020, however, over 100,000t were exported to facilities in Northern Ireland.

Currently, only under a third of the estimated 1 million tonnes of food waste/year, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), is collected in Ireland.

Exports of food and garden waste to Northern Ireland contribute over one million road truck km/year, according to Cré.

Recycling food and garden waste locally would help close the nutrient loop in agriculture, and build carbon content in Irish soils, Keith Swan from the conservation agriculture farming group, BASE Ireland said.

Cré has also called on everyone to support National Food Waste Recycling Week, which started recently, and to dispose of food and garden waste in the compost bin.