The amount of household waste recycled and composted in Northern Ireland has continued to increase for the twelfth consecutive year, however, the country failed to reach its self-set milestone target of recycling 43 percent by the end of March 2014, managing 41 percent.
While this is below the milestone target set by The Northern Ireland Programme for Government, it still represents an increase of over fourfold on the 2002 level of 10 percent and an increase of over 1 percentage point on the previous year (40 percent).
The 2013/14 NI Local Authority Collected (LAC) Municipal Waste Management Statistics Annual Report revealed that the proportion of household waste sent to landfill has dropped by almost five percentage points, from approaching 53 percent in 2012/13 to 48 percent in 2013/14.
Magherafelt District Council sent the lowest percentage of household waste to landfill (27 percent). Down District Council sent the highest percentage of household waste to landfill (64 percent).
Overall, household waste arisings have increased for the first time in seven years by over 1 percent, from 804 thousand tonnes in 2012/13 to 815 thousand tonnes this year, in line with continued population growth coupled with a stabilisation in the waste that each of us produces.
Mark H Durkan – “We are increasingly seeing waste as a valuable resource. Clearly, the message to prevent waste and recycle has been taken on board by householders across the country. Their recycling efforts have diverted an additional 18,000 tonnes of waste from landfill since the previous year”
The Northern Ireland Local Authority Collected (LAC) municipal waste showed a similar trend with landfill dropping below half (to 49 percent from 54 percent in 2012/13). The recycling (including composting) rate has increased from 39 percent to 41 percent and overall arisings have increased by just over one percent.
Environment Minister Mark H Durkan welcomed the recycling figures and gave an update on the Northern Ireland Waste Management Strategy that was published last October.
Commenting on the annual results, the Minister said: “The North has turned an important corner in our road to zero waste.
“We are increasingly seeing waste as a valuable resource. Clearly, the message to prevent waste and recycle has been taken on board by householders across the country. Their recycling efforts have diverted an additional 18,000 tonnes of waste from landfill since the previous year.
“That’s £1.3m extra in landfill tax savings for Northern Ireland councils. But we must be careful not to be too complacent, we are only half way to a zero waste society.”
Addressing WRAP NI conference delegates from the waste sector, Minister Durkan highlighted: “Today you have been discussing ways to make us more sustainable in the use of our resources. It’s quite simple, for Northern Ireland to remain competitive in a global market, we as a society must become more resource efficient and move to a circular economy, a zero waste economy.
“Being more resource efficient leads to more employment, creates new opportunities for economic growth and greater innovation, increases economic performance and competitiveness, tackles climate change; and limits the environmental impacts of resource use.”
The Minister reaffirmed his intention to introduce regulations to restrict food waste going into landfill in the coming months. He also laid out plans for a focus on increasing the quality and value of recyclates.
“Approximately 190,000 tonnes of food waste is landfilled every year. Recycling this waste alone could easily meet future European targets and save millions of pounds for councils.
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