Northern Ireland reaches 50% recycling target

Northern Ireland has reached the EU-set target of recycling 50% of its household waste by 2020.

Speaking at CIWM’s Northern Ireland Conference this morning, the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs’ (DAERA) Owen Lyttle announced 2019 figures show the country has reached a recycling rate of 50.6%.

According to figures for the whole of the UK released in February this year (2019), Northern Ireland’s 2017 annual recycling rate stood at 46.3%.

Northern Ireland saw a 3.0 percentage point increase in the recycling rate in 2017 compared to 2016, which has been attributed to the introduction of mandatory food waste collection from April 2017.

The new figures mean the country has increased its recycling rate by 4.3% since 2017.

In June this year DAERA announced £23million was being invested in making recycling easier in Northern Ireland and to improve the quality of material being recycled in the country.

The Household Waste Recycling Collaborative Change Programme will be available over the next three years and will assist local councils to transform kerbside recycling and Household Recycling Centre infrastructure and services.

The programme will emphasise quality of recycling, as well as increasing the quantity of recyclates collected, in order to realise the economic potential of recycling to the local economy.

The first tranche of £5.9 million is being released in this financial year, 2019/20.

In July this year, the country reported a quarterly recycling rate of 47.2% between January and March 2019.

The key points

  • Northern Ireland’s councils collected 265,181 tonnes of LAC municipal waste between April and June 2019, 2.9% lower than the 273,200 tonnes collected during the same three months of 2018. Household waste accounted for 88.5% of total LAC municipal waste. Fermanagh & Omagh produced the smallest quantity of household waste per capita at 108kg, whilst the largest quantity per capita was recorded in Antrim & Newtownabbey at 158kg.
  • The household waste preparing for reuse, dry recycling and composting rate was 54.8% between April and June 2019, an increase on the 52.6% recorded during the same three months of 2018. At council level, rates varied from 45.5% in Derry City & Strabane to 63.2% in Mid Ulster.
  • The LAC municipal waste energy recovery rate was 18.7%, an increase on the 17.1% reported for April to June 2018. The highest rate was recorded in Newry, Mourne & Down at 40.9% and the lowest was 5% in Ards & North Down.
  • The latest quarterly landfill rate for household waste is 24%, a further reduction on the 27.9% recorded during the same three months of 2018.
  • There were 31,905 tonnes of biodegradable local authority collected municipal waste (BLACMW) sent to landfill between April and June 2019. This was 17.3% lower than the 38,595 tonnes sent between the same three months of 2018, and accounted for a smaller proportion of the permitted annual allowance allocated to councils for sending BLACMW to landfill, 14.5% between April and June 2019 compared to 16.5% in the equivalent quarter of 2018.

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