The Environment Minister for Northern Ireland has called on the waste sector to ensure that health and safety is given priority at all waste facilities.
The Minister was speaking following the meeting of the Waste Programme Board at which he and members received updates on three key areas impacting the waste sector.
Following a briefing by the Waste Industry Safety and Health Forum for Northern Ireland (WISHNI), Mark H Durkan said: “There are vital steps which can and must be taken by those responsible for health and safety at waste facilities to ensure that we never have a repeat of the tragic and avoidable incidents that claimed the lives of David Layland at a landfill site in Mallusk in August 2008 and Alan Devenny at a Coleraine recycling centre in July 2011.
“We must never forget that there are real risks for those who work within this sector and it must make every effort to ensure a safer working environment for them. I therefore fully support the work of WISHNI for its ongoing commitment to identifying, devising and promoting best practice to improve industry health and safety standards.”
Mark H Durkan – “We must never forget that there are real risks for those who work within this sector and it must make every effort to ensure a safer working environment for them. I therefore fully support the work of WISHNI for its ongoing commitment to identifying, devising and promoting best practice to improve industry health and safety standards”
The Programme Board also received updates from Banbridge District Council and Newtownabbey Borough Council on their respective pilot schemes for improving recycling rates together with a briefing from the recent Resource Innovation Network for European Waste (ReNEW) study visit to waste facilities in Belgium and Germany.
Commenting on the potential impact these have on moving towards a circular economy, the Minister said: “These council pilot schemes are innovative approaches to the challenge of meeting current EU recycling targets. They are indicative of the kind of transformational change needed if we are to meet the even higher targets proposed by the European Commission for 2030.
“These, together with the ReNEW study visit which further provides an insight into the ‘art of the possible’ will help in formulating future Northern Ireland strategy as we look at ways to become more sustainable in the use of our resources.
“As we move towards a circular economy in the North, we all need to see waste as a valuable resource, play our part in reducing the amount of waste being sent to landfill and learn from what has proved successful in other jurisdictions. I see that as a crucial element in my Department’s work.“