Belfast Telegraph

Recycling rates stall, but landfill falls to its lowest level ever

By Linda Stewart

Household recycling and composting rates in Northern Ireland have stalled, showing no quarter by quarter increase for the first time since 2009/10.

Figures from last summer have revealed that the recycling rate has hit a plateau at just below 46%.

However, they also show the tonnage of waste being sent to landfill has fallen to below 89,000 tonnes, down 14% on last year.That means only two out of every five tonnes of waste are now going to landfill.

The greatest contribution to the reduction in landfill has been made by diverting waste for incineration to create energy, rather than through any significant increase in household recycling.

The trends are revealed in the provisional Northern Ireland local authority collected municipal waste management statistics for July to September 2014, which is based on returns made by councils.

The report says earlier improvements in composting and recycling were driven mainly by a rising proportion of household waste being composted, but notes that since last year this proportion has stalled at around 25%.

Environment Minister Mark H Durkan welcomed the news that just 39.9% of household rubbish and 40.6% of municipal waste is now being sent to landfill - the lowest proportions ever.

Most of the municipal waste in Northern Ireland that had previously been buried in landfill sites is now being manufactured into 'refuse-derived fuel' and exported for burning in incinerators to provide energy.

The DoE said that although this is better than landfill, ultimately resources that could be recycled are still going up in smoke.

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