Recycling targets 'may be missed'
Tough recycling targets will be missed in Northern Ireland unless people are better educated about waste, an expert has said.
Significant EU fines could be incurred unless more is done to boost the proportion of material which is reused, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) said.
The annual rate of increase in municipal recycling has slowed from 6% in 2004/05 to 1.5% in 2009/10. The rate for households has behaved similarly.
RICS Northern Ireland spokesman Michael Doran said: "It is very difficult to see how we are going to meet the targets if there isn't some kind of significant impetus. In my view, this needs to be a large education and communication programme that communicates both the need for and the benefits of recycling.
"Some people might argue that we can't afford such a programme at present with the pressures on public spending, but the reality is that we can't afford not to - not least due to the potential fines that we would incur if we don't meet the EU targets."
Environment Minister Alex Attwood wants to increase recycling of household, construction and industrial waste to 60% and upwards by 2020. The European Landfill Directive has set very stringent targets to reduce the amount of waste sent to landfill.
Last month figures were released which showed household recycling rates have risen by 3.3% compared to the same quarter last year. The quarterly household recycling and composting figures for January-March 2011 were at their highest since statistics began in 2008.
The Northern Ireland Waste Management Statistics for this period also highlight a 5.6% decrease in the amount of waste being landfilled by councils on the same basis.
A spokesman for the Department of the Environment said it was confident that re-cycling figures would not flatline. He said: "DOE incentivise local councils by providing funding directly to cover the capital costs of improving or extending their existing waste collection, re-use and recycling infrastructure. A total of £4.2 million in capital grants was awarded to councils for 41 projects in 2010-11.
"A wide range of projects benefited from this funding, including glass collection schemes, improvements to Household Waste Recycling Centres, funding for food and garden waste collections and for compactors and recycling skips diverting 27,000 tonnes of waste from landfill. The minister recently launched a further round of this funding making £1.5 million available to councils during 2011-12.Councils can also apply for funding under the Rethink Waste (Revenue) Fund. The minister recently launched a further £400,000 of funding for 2011-12."