[UPDATED] Northern Ireland’s landfill rate rises as energy recovery falls

Northern Ireland’s landfill rate for waste collected by councils was 23.7% in July to September 2021, an increase from the 21.6% recorded during July to September 2020 but an overall reduction from the 71.8% landfilled in July to September 2006.

Recently published data show councils collected 275,759 tonnes of waste during July to September 2021, a 4.5% decrease compared to July to September 2020, according to new figures.

During July to September 2021, 52.6% of waste collected by councils was sent for recycling, similar to the recycling rate for July to September 2020.

Just over a fifth (21.5%) of waste arisings were sent for energy recovery in July to September 2021, lower than the 23.0% reported in July to September 2020, but an increase from the 0.1% rate during the same quarter in 2009.

Household waste accounted for 88.7 % of all waste collected during this period. The recycling rate for household waste was 53.0%, down from 53.9% in July to September 2020.

The landfill rate for household waste was 23.5%, an increase from 21.1% compared to the same quarter last year.

UPDATE: 31 January 2022

According to Indaver, the European integrated waste management company behind plans to invest £240m in modern waste infrastructure to meet the identified needs of six NI councils in the arc21 area, the latest figures demonstrates that Northern Ireland is ‘not heading in the right direction towards a circular economy’. Circular economy targets include a 10% maximum cap on waste to landfill by 2035. 

Speaking about the latest waste data Jackie Keaney, Indaver said: “These latest figures provide further evidence of a number of worrying trends in Northern Ireland waste management.

“If we are to meet agreed climate change and circular economy targets, we need to stop burying our waste and our heads in the ground about this issue. It is abundantly clear that we need to deliver critical waste infrastructure here in Northern Ireland to achieve this, rather than continue to landfill our black bin waste or rely on similar facilities abroad.

Now is the time for that action and to deliver the critical waste infrastructure that Northern Ireland clearly needs…we have no time to waste

“This has been recognised by arc21, the public sector waste management body for six local councils and their 1.1m inhabitants for many years now, but still their plans to manage their black bin waste have been beset by long delays.

“We support and agree with the recently published draft Investment Strategy for Northern Ireland which recognises that ‘Too much of our waste is exported each year to become someone else’s opportunity to recycle into higher-value material, generate energy; or unfortunately in some cases, to become someone else’s disposal problem.’

“It also clearly states that ‘we will need to invest in and develop a more coherent, robust and resilient waste management system for the whole of the region.’ While the latest Investment Strategy reiterates the policy objectives of various plans and strategies over many years, these are only empty promises if they are not backed up by action.

“Now is the time for that action and to deliver the critical waste infrastructure that Northern Ireland clearly needs…we have no time to waste.”

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