Recycling in Northern Ireland overtakes landfill
Finally, Northern Ireland reuses and composts more waste than it buries in the ground
Northern Ireland has finally "turned the corner" and is recycling and composting more waste than it buries in landfill.
It means lower rates are now being spent on landfill tax, according to Environment Minister Mark H Durkan, who welcomed the spring quarter waste figures.
Between April and June this year, 44.5% of municipal waste was sent for recycling and composting - an increase of 2.4% on the same time last year - while 40.9% went to landfill, a drop of 10.3%.
Meanwhile, 45.2% of household waste was recycled and composted, an increase of 2.5% on spring last year, while 40.2% went to landfill, a decrease of 8.1%.
However, the overall amount of household waste increased for the second year running, rising by 6.7% to 226,618 tonnes this spring - suggesting that the messages about reducing waste aren't getting through.
A total of 56.9% of paper and card from households were going to recycling, but just 1.4% of electric and electronic waste. However, capture rates for organic/compostable material and glass waste have risen by 5.7% and 3.9% in a year respectively.
Mr Durkan said: "It is good to see that we have finally turned the corner when it comes to making use of our resources. Rather than burying them in the ground, we are finding new ways to recover some of their value. Less landfill means lower rates being spent on landfill tax and less impact on the environment. I would encourage everyone to keep up the good work to reduce, reuse and recycle."
Northern Ireland still has some way to go before it can emulate the likes of Sweden, where more than 90% of waste is recycled.
There, recycling stations tend to be no more than 300 metres from any residential area, but part of the impressively low landfill rate stems from the fact that around 50% of household waste is incinerated.
The figures were released as letters were issued to around 400 households in the Ravenhill Road area of Belfast to highlight contamination of recycling bins and the leaving of loose waste beside black bins. Fines can be issued to householders who do not follow the rules.
A spokesperson for Belfast City Council said: "It reiterated advice for householders on the type of waste which can be disposed of in each bin and which if followed will reduce the amount of waste being placed in black bins generally."
Ricky Burnett, director of Arc21 which handles waste for 11 councils, said attitudes to recycling have improved dramatically and the public are to be commended for embracing the need to reduce, reuse and recycle. "However, we cannot afford to be complacent and I would urge everyone to ensure they fully use the recycling facilities provided by their council," he said.