Eleven councils across the east of Northern Ireland will be launching food waste collection over the next year-and-a-half.
The scheme will be rolled out over the 11 councils that are part of the Arc21 waste management group over the next 18 months, the group said.
It’s hoped the scheme could push recycling rates in some district councils to over 50% of all household waste.
Instead of rotting in landfill sites and generating large amounts of methane, a harmful greenhouse gas, food waste can now be turned into compost along with garden waste.
Ricky Burnett of Arc21 said householders will be able to add food waste including meat and dairy to the brown bin which is currently used for collecting garden waste, and it will then be composted.
“If you consider that food waste can account for a quarter of the waste that comes out of households, it’s going to make a significant difference,” he said.
“It will go to a plant for a treatment process which will then turn it into compost and it will then be sold through retail outlets and used for land remediation projects — there are a host of uses.”
Belfast City Council has already begun a pilot food waste collection scheme, but this would extend the approach to councils in Newtownards, Antrim, Ballymena, Carrickfergus, Castlereagh, Downpatrick, Larne, Lisburn, Newtownabbey and North Down.
Charitable organisation Bryson Recycling says it is introducing a pilot food waste collection scheme in Castlereagh which is expected to have a dramatic effect on recycling rates.
“We have a much more sophisticated truck coming out which will have a compartment for food waste in it,” director Eric Randall said.
“We think it will have a really dramatic impact and will start pushing recycling rates from around 34% to over 50%.
“We’ve gone from 5% in the early part of the century to 34% at this point and now we think this will push it up above 50%. It’s a huge step change.”
Householders in Ards began feeding their brown bins with food from April 1. Everything from scraps of meat, fish and vegetables to fruit, pasta, cheese, beans and bread can be added to the bin, potentially diverting around 40% of the waste found in an average black bin.
The council has provided free ‘kitchen caddies’ to all homes with a brown bin, which can then be used to collect food waste. When the caddy is full the contents can simply be emptied into the brown bin. Caddies can be lined with old newspaper or paper kitchen roll to absorb moisture and food scraps can also be wrapped this way — the paper can go directly into brown bins as it will also compost.