Ireland consistently scores poorly in Circular Material Use Rate (CMUR), a circularity metric developed by Eurostat – the statistical arm of the European Union – to measure progress in this area. Indeed, Ireland’s CMUR rate is significantly lower (at 2%) than the European average (12%), and the Netherlands, which leads the EU in this metrics (31%). The Irish Government aims to improve in this area with a national objective of exceeding the European average by 2030.

The Rediscovery Centre, Clean Technology Centre, and Circle Economy are currently collaborating on a research project –  A critical analysis of Ireland’s Circular Material Use Rate (CMUR) – which aims to understand why this is the case. 

The CMUR metric compares materials recycled with total Domestic Material Consumption (DMC) to calculate the percentage of materials recirculated through recycling. The metrics draws on data that are very comprehensive representing consumption and recycling of everything from fossil fuels, to grazed grass, to consumer products, and construction aggregates. 

The preliminary findings indicate that key factors contributing to Ireland’s low CMUR are our relatively low overall recycling rates (domestic recycling + exports), and the high levels of extraction of biomass and construction related materials (crushed rock, sand and gravel). Indeed, Ireland’s consumption levels are 70% higher per capita than the European Average. Ireland has particularly high levels of biomass consumption, including 4 tonnes of grazed grass per capita per annum, and 1.5 tonnes of animal fodder per capita per annum. Additionally, Ireland typically recycles just 10% of its total waste. The European average for recycling is 38% of total waste. 

By comparing Ireland’s CMUR with a selection of other Member States (Austria, Netherlands, and Croatia), the project team has also established that changes and differences in reporting systems and accounting can significantly impact on CMUR.

The next stages of the research include completing the analysis of Eurostat data,  data collection methods and analysis of specific product groups and then compiling recommendations for improving Ireland’s CMUR. For more information contact