Belfast Telegraph

Quarter of Northern Ireland homes unhappy with council recycling service

Homeowners want all councils to 'commingle' household recyclables and glass in the same bin (stock photo)
Homeowners want all councils to 'commingle' household recyclables and glass in the same bin (stock photo)
Mark Bain

By Mark Bain

There's been a call for councils to do more to promote recycling after it was revealed one in four householders in Northern Ireland say they are unhappy with the way they've been asked to handle their waste.

Homeowners want all councils to 'commingle' household recyclables and glass in the same bin.

In council areas where household recyclables (plastic, paper, card, tins and cardboard) can be 'commingled' with glass, the approval rating soared to 81%.

People living in Fermanagh and Omagh Council area were the most content, at 87%, while Mid-Ulster has been cited as the best example of how a council should operate.

The survey, carried out by Lucid Talk across all 11 council areas, revealed that Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Council's householders were least happy (48%) with their council's recycling collection method, followed by 58% in the Belfast City Council area.

Of those who said they weren't happy with how their council has asked them to recycle, 62% rated 'bins are too small' in the top three most negative factors.

A third of respondents who aren't happy said that they 'want to recycle glass with their mixed dry recycling'.

Encouragingly, 74% of the householders surveyed across Northern Ireland said that they try to recycle everything they can, however a quarter of the respondents admitted to recycling only when it was convenient for them, but not always.

When asked what would encourage them to recycle more, of the councils that don't offer a fully commingled recycling service with glass, nearly 50% of all householders said they would recycle more if there was one bin that took all recycling, including glass.

This figure rose to 76% of householders in the Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council area.

A fifth of NI householders also said that they would recycle more if there was better information provided by their council on what they could recycle.

Joseph Doherty, Managing Director of Re-Gen Waste Ltd, said: "Local authorities need to encourage the maximum number of people to recycle the maximum volume of materials, weighed against the cost of processing the material, the potential financial benefits from reducing landfill costs and selling on recyclable material.

"The councils we work with tell us that household friendly schemes such as commingling recyclables, are much preferable to residents than pre-sort schemes, using small containers, and that working with advanced Material Recycling Facilities like ours, is actively improving their recycling rates."

Mr Doherty's observations are reflected by the survey finding that one in 10 people who can't recycle their glass along with the rest of their recycling waste will put glass in the municipal waste (black or grey) bin, compared to three in one hundred people who live in council areas that offer a commingled glass recycling service.

In Belfast, 20% said they put their glass in their municipal bin rather than recycle it. There's a similarly high figure of 17% in Lisburn and Castlereagh and 15% in Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon.

None of these council areas offer commingled glass recycling.

When respondents who live in council areas where glass is commingled were asked if they would recycle less if they had to place their glass waste into a separate caddy, 35% said they would.

"More and more local authorities are seeing the benefits and costsavings achieved by switching to commingling collection services, alongside an ultra-modern Material Recovery Facility," said Mr Doherty.

"What we should be doing is learning from Mid Ulster Council, the top performing recycling council in Northern Ireland.

"Their collection is commingled with glass and where other councils are operating several waste collections within their area, Mid Ulster Council has exceeded the EU's Directive of a 50% household recycling rate by 6.3%, two years before the 2020 deadline.

"Mid Ulster has continued to grow their recycling rate year on year, which would suggest they are doing something right."

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