Councils in Northern Ireland achieved a 42.2% municipal recycling and composting rate in 2015/16, according to the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs.
Published yesterday (1 December), the annual statistical report shows that in total, Northern Ireland’s councils collected 969,157 tonnes of local authority collected (LAC) municipal waste in 2015/16.
The tonnage was a 1.9% increase on the 951,423 tonnes collected in 2014/15. Household waste accounted for 88.8% of total LAC municipal waste.
Chair of Mid Ulster district council, cllr Trevor Wilson and chair of the Environment Committee, cllr Clement Cuthbertson at the Drumcoo Recycling Centre, Dungannon.
According to the report, 42.2% of household waste was sent for processing for reuse, dry recycling and composting – marginally above the 2014/15 rate of 42.0%.
In 2015/16, the tonnage of LAC municipal waste sent for preparing for reuse, dry recycling and composting reached a ‘record high’ at 405,414 tonnes. At council level, the recycling varied from 33.3% in Derry City & Strabane to the highest rate in Mid Ulster at 49.6%.
The LAC municipal waste energy recovery rate was 17.6%, an increase of 2.7 percentage points on the 14.9% recorded in 2014/15. Derry City & Strabane had the highest energy recovery rate in 2015/16 at 37.2% whilst the lowest was 1.2% in Fermanagh & Omagh.
Local authority waste figures for Northern Ireland 2015/16 (Source: DEARA)
Northern Ireland also recorded a new low of 39.7% landfill rate for household waste in 2015/16, a drop of 3 percentage points on the 2014/15 rate (42.7%) and a fall from 72.3% in 2006/07.
Commenting on reaching the highest reuse, dry recycling and composting rate, a Mid Ulster district council spokesperson said: “Mid Ulster District Council operates a very straight-forward waste collection service across the district in the form of a three bin service collected fortnightly. (blue – mixed, dry recyclables, black – residual waste, brown – garden, kitchen and food waste).
“This three bin service is capable of delivering 50% of the recycling and composting of Council waste. We also operate 12 recycling centres across the district, all open to the public.
“Mid Ulster District Council continues to reduce the amount of waste it sends to landfill which not only helps recycling figures but is a much more sustainable approach to waste management. In fact, by 2020 the Council plans not to be sending any waste directly to landfill.”
Environment minister Michelle McIlveen chose to highlight the reduction in landfill rates. Miss McIlveen said: “These figures, the lowest for 10 years, demonstrate that the continuing momentum to divert waste from landfill will significantly benefit our environment. However, the figures also indicate a levelling off of the recycling rate.
“By not recycling more we are missing out on opportunities to maximise the value of waste. Recycled materials provide resources for the manufacturing industry that will result in greater opportunities for the local economy and increase employment opportunities.”
The minister added: “I would encourage more householders to think ‘Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. With a little extra effort from all of us, we can collectively make a positive contribution. I believe we as a society can do even better and by playing our part we can help to improve the environment and support the local economy.”