Your local authority is responsible for providing sites for recycling household waste. Most Local Authorities provide recycling banks at “bring sites” for recycling newspapers and magazines, aluminium cans, glass and textiles. Some also provide for a wider range of material. These sites may simply be a collection of recycling banks at a suitable location (where car parking is provided) or may be a dedicated “civic amenity site” or “household waste and recycling centre.
Some households may not be within easy walking distance of a recycling bank and you may need to use a car, with the associated energy and pollution implications. Try not to make a special car journey to recycle your waste, or better still, walk to the recycling banks!

Your local authority can direct to your nearest facility, or check out our list of Bring and Recycling Centres.
Local authorities may also provide kerbside collection schemes and some provide home composting bins for householders to compost their organic waste. A total of 35% of households now have some kind of kerbside collection scheme. Householders are provided with separate bins in addition to the normal black bag or wheeled bin provided for general rubbish. Clean, dry, separated materials for recycling such as paper, aluminium and plastic are placed in the containers which are then collected – either on the same day or a different day to the normal refuse collection. Kerbside schemes make it easy and convenient for householders to recycle, and reduce the need for separate journeys to the recycling centre. Successful schemes in many local authority areas have demonstrated that kerbside collection is an effective method of increasing recycling rates and diverting waste from disposal.

After you put your waste materials in the recycling bank or container they are usually taken to a central depot where the materials are sorted, bulked up and baled for onward transportation. Usually, even if materials are separated fully by the householder, there is still some further sorting to be undertaken as there is likely to be a small amount of contamination with other materials. The depot is often a Materials Reclamation Facility (MRF). These may be “clean” MRFs or “dirty” MRFs.

Clean MRFs accept recyclables which have been separated from normal refuse (but they may arrive as a mixture of recyclables, for example, glass and cans). Dirty MRFs accept mixed rubbish (rather than separated recyclables) from households or businesses. The simplest sorting techniques at MRFs are manual, employing people to pick out materials from a raised belt. However, mechanical sorting systems have developed considerably over recent years, and continue to develop.

The bales are sent to reprocessors such as paper mills, glassmakers or plastic reprocessing plants where the material is processed for use in other applications or processed directly into a new product. In Ireland we send most of our waste abroad to be recycled as we have not yet developed many reprocessing facilities Some materials such as aluminium and glass can be recycled indefinitely, as the process does not affect their structure.. Other materials, such as paper, require a mixture of waste and raw material to manufacture a new product. With material such as plastic, the waste is converted into a granulate or pellet which is then used in the manufacture of a recycled or part-recycled plastic product.



Recycling is the processing of waste products to provide the raw material to make new ones. When you take materials to a bring bank or  put them out for the local authority to collect, they have not at that point been recycled – although they have been collected for recycling. The recycling process as a whole is completed when we buy the products that have been made from the recycled materials.

Recycling reduces the demand for raw materials. By recovering materials from old products we are removing or reducing the need to extract yet more raw materials from the earth. This is important because the vast majority of resources that we use in manufacturing products and providing services cannot be replaced. The use of these resources cannot go on indefinitely – we would run out.

Recycling means that we also avoid many of the additional environmental impacts associated with extracting the new resources, manufacturing and distributing the goods. Activities such as mining, quarrying and logging can be environmentally destructive, damaging the natural environment and local wildlife habitats. The processing and transportation activities also add to the environmental impact. Recycling often uses less energy and causes less pollution than using raw materials. For example, the manufacture of bags from recycled rather than virgin polythene reduces energy consumption by two-thirds, produces one-third of the sulphur dioxide and one-half of the nitrous oxide, uses only one-eighth of the water and reduces carbon dioxide generation.

Recycling is a positive step which we can take to help the environment. It encourages us to think about the waste we create and take responsibility for what happens to it. Ultimately this is the greatest advantage of recycling as raising awareness is the first step towards changing the way we deal with any problem.



A Waste Minimisation Club is where businesses in a particular geographic area, group together to negotiate better terms/services from waste contractors. The Club may also share facilities, and equipment and exchange waste items that may be of use to another business. The focus should eventually lead to waste minimisation efforts being put in place by the businesses.

Each Waste Minimisation Club will be different, but ultimately it will help you deal with your waste in an environmentally sustainable manner, bring you into line with national legislation and save on waste collection and disposal costs for your business.


Before you start to initiate a Waste Minimisation Club it is important to ensure that within each business, waste is being prevented at source wherever possible. For example – set the printer to double-sided, make scrap paper into notepads, provide staff with ceramic cups to eliminate plastic or polystyrene cups, the list goes on! For a list of other helpful ideas to reduce and reuse waste in your business refer to the‘Small Change Tips’.


Talk to neighbouring businesses to see if they are interested in forming a Waste Minimisation Club


Appoint a coordinator, this can be someone from:

  • The business community
  • Local Authority
  • Chambers of Commerce
  • Race Against Waste Representative
  • Other


The businesses need to make a commitment to the Club, this can take the form of a Charter signed by a representative from each business. This charter will state that the participating business agree to

  • Prevent and minimise waste at source
  • Segregate and present their waste in a proper manner
  • Participate in regular waste audits (2 per year)
  • Document their involvement in the Club

The businesses could also form the club as a limited company.


Audit your waste – the service provider will require the following information from the Club:

  • Waste types
  • Weight per waste type (weekly/monthly)
  • Requirements (space, containers, onsite facilities, collection frequency etc)

The businesses will be required to provide this information in a uniform manner, (Refer to Small Change Guide Waste Audit form) however Waste Audit Workshops will be provided by the Race Against Waste Team to assist you in this process.


Compile the Waste Audit information and any additional Waste Minimisation Club requirements into a brief for the Service Providers.


Contact several Service Providers and provide them with the brief. If possible meet with the Service Providers to assess the Club’s site(s) for collection and to discuss any contractual issues.


Appoint a service provider


Ensure all members in the Waste Minimisation Club are aware of their responsibility to segregate and present waste according to the Service Provider agreement.


The Coordinator needs to provide opportunities for regular feedback and discussion within the Club. This could be through a bi- monthly meeting or an email forum.


Evaluate and monitor how the Waste Minimisation Club is working, the best way to do this is through waste audits. Every 6 months the Club members should complete a waste audit to establish how much waste has been reduced, this will also raise issues that can be discussed at the future meetings, such as:

  • Areas for improvement
  • New wastes identified
  • Opportunities for waste exchange
  • Collection issues

The Coordinator must document the Waste Audit results and all issues raised at meetings for future reference.



There is a lot of confusion about what happens to our waste. In this section we explain the methods currently used and give an easily understandable explanation of the benefits achieved.

  • Integrated Waste Management (As Gaeilge)
  • Recycling
  • Composting is Easy (As Gaeilge)
  • Biological Treatment (As Gaeilge)
  • Incineration (As Gaeilge)
  • Landfill (As Gaeilge)
  • Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE)
  • Gaeilge/Béarla Glossary of Environmental Terms