Northern Ireland Waste Law

The management of municipal waste and land use planning – principal differences between Wales, England, Scotland and Northern Ireland. A similar summary table exists on the Defra website of the differences in Landfill Allowance schemes across the UK. If you wish to look at a specific policy area, click on the relevant heading.

Waste policy devolved to the Northern Ireland Assembly.

The Department of the Environment (NI) Planning and Environmental Policy Group (PEPG) is responsible for environmental legislation in Northern Ireland.

The Northern Ireland Environmental Agency (NIEA) currently takes the lead on advising on, and implementing, environmental policy and strategy. NIEA has the waste regulatory role as legislated for in the Waste and Contaminated Land (NI) Order 1997, and the Waste Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2011

Toward Resource Management: The Northern Ireland Waste Management Strategy 2006-2020 provides a long term vision and framework for waste management in the Province: currently under review.

Key Waste strategy targets

National targets for household waste set out in Toward Resource Management were to recycle and compost:

  • 40% of household waste arisings by 2015
  • 45% of household waste arisings by 2020

Whilst no specific targets were identified for municipal waste, the NI Best Practicable Environmental Option (BPEO) Guidance 2005 suggested:

  • By 2010: recycling/composting rate of at least 35%, combination of Mechanical Biological Treatment (MBT) for about 10% waste
  • By 2013: recycling/composting rate of at least 40%, combination of MBT, Anaerobic Digestion (AD) and thermal treatments for about 20% waste, less than 40% to landfill
  • By 2020: recycling/composting rate of at least 45%, combination of MBT,AD and thermal treatments for about 30% waste, no more than 25% waste to landfill

In April 2011, the Waste Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2011 set new targets of:

  • 50% by weight of waste from households to be prepared for reuse or recycled by 2020 
  • 70% by weight of Construction and Demolition (C&D) wastes to be subject to materials recovery to 2010. 

The Department of the Environment NI recently held an open consultation on the possible introduction of a 60% municipal recycling/preparing for reuse/composting rate of 60%. The LARAC response is available in the Policy Archive.

The Northern Ireland Waste Strategy is currently under review.  

Waste Prevention: 

A Framework for Waste Prevention in Northern Ireland was published in 2005.

The Northern Ireland Assembly has committed to putting a place a Waste Prevention Programme in line with the requirements of Article 29 of the rWFD (by 12 December 2013)

Key regulatory drivers

The Waste Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2011 have fully transposed the requirements of the revised Waste Framework Directive (2008/98/EC) in the Province.

The Department of the Environment NI has recently held open consultations on the possibility on introducing a requirement for Site Waste Management Plans, Restrictions on Wastes to Landfill, a Recycling Policy (setting a 60%  Municipal Recycling rate target),  an Addendum to the Northern Ireland Waste Management Strategy, and a proposed Duty of Care Code of Practice for Northern Ireland.

The outcome of these consultations is expected to shape future waste regulation in Northern Ireland.

The LARAC responses to the consultations are available in the Policy Archive

Northern Ireland is divided into 26 single tier local government districts which are supported by the Northern Ireland Local Government Association (NILGA).

A planned Review of Public Administrations, reducing the number of councils to 11, has been postponed until at least 2014.
 
In Northern Ireland some functions, which in other parts of the UK would be undertaken by councils, are provided by government departments or agencies, for example education, social services, planning, road and water services.  RPA may see Local Authorities (LA) taking on some of these functions. 

The 26 local authorities in Northern Ireland have formed into three sub-regional waste management groups for the delivery and development of waste management plans and infrastructure, for benchmarking and sharing best practice:

  • ARC21 
  • North West Region Waste management Group (NWRWMG) 
  • Southern Waste Management Partnership (SWaMP2008)

The three waste management groups in Northern Ireland have each prepared a waste management plan for their respective region for the period 2006 – 2020 in order to meet the NI Waste Management Strategy objectives (due for review when the updated National Waste Management Strategy is published).

The three waste management groups in Northern Ireland have each prepared a waste management plan for their respective region for the period 2006 – 2020 in order to meet the NI Waste Management Strategy objectives (due for review when the updated National Waste Management Strategy is published).

The Landfill Allowances Scheme Regulations (2004) Northern Ireland (NILAS) came into force on 1 April 2005. The scheme does permit free transfer of allowances within NI, but does not permit trading of allowances.

Under the Landfill Allowances Scheme (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2009, the biodegradable content of collected municipal waste is assumed to be 64% by weight.

Penalties for exceeding allowances are set at £150/tonne of BMW.

The NILAS scheme is currently under review.

This Act does not apply in Northern Ireland.

In transposing Directive 2008/98/EC (the revised Waste Framework Directive), Articles 18-20 of the Waste Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2011 require that from 1 January 2015 anyone collecting waste paper, metal, plastic, or glass must take all measures to ensure separate collection of these materials. Article 21 states that co-mingled collection is a form of separate collection for the purposes of regulations 18-20.

Currently as per Waste Framework Directive requirements, but new Recycling Bill set to be introduced by 2014 with a mandatory 60% LACMW target by 2020. The draft Bill is out for consultation at present; it seems likely that it will follow the Welsh model – with staggered targets and possible penalties for failure to achieve targets

No specific targets in place.

NI Best Practicable Environmental Option Guidance (2005):

  • By 2010: recycling/composting rate of at least 35%, combination of Mechanical Biological Treatment (MBT)for about 10% waste
  • By 2013: recycling/composting rate of at least 40%, combination of MBT, Anaerobic Digestion (AD) and thermal treatments for about 20% waste, less than 40% to landfill
  • By 2020: recycling/composting rate of at least 45%, combination of MBT,AD and thermal treatments for about 30% waste, no more than 25% waste to landfill

The Hazardous Waste Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2005 implement the Hazardous Waste Directive (Directive 91/689/EC) in Northern Ireland, and require separation and segregated storage of hazardous wastes.

Articles 45(2)-63 of the Waste Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2011 amend the above regulations in order to fully transpose requirements of the Waste Framework Directive (2008/98/EC).

All local authority Household Waste Recycling Centres act as Designated Collection Facilities for Waste Electronic and Electrical Equipment, and household batteries. Some individual authorities offer segregated collection facilities at their Centres for other hazardous household wastes, such as paints/thinners and automotive batteries.

A Framework for Waste Prevention in Northern Ireland was published in 2005. 

It is expected that a Waste Prevention Programme will be announced in 2011/12 in accordance with Directive (2008/98/EC).

No statutory targets in place.

Central Government Departments committed to reducing paper waste by 10% per year.

Many LAs in Northern Ireland have implemented Environmental Management Systems such as ISO 140001.

NI Assembly Rethink Waste fund established for the introduction of capital and revenue projects/initiatives that will boost recycling and reuse activities. 

The local Government (Best Value) Act Northern Ireland 2002 requires local authorities to continuously improve with regard to economy, efficiency and effectiveness.

Individual local authorities have also adopted other quality management tools such as Charter Mark, ISO 9001 and the EFQM Excellence Model.

Local authorities are required to report to the Department of the Environment NI regarding the Accounts Commission Performance Indicators, six key waste collection and disposal indicators.

Local authorities must also report quarterly to Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) on the following:

  • KPI (a) Household waste sent for recycling/composting as a % of household waste arisings
  • KPI (b) Household waste landfilled as  % of household waste arisings
  • KPI (e) Municipal waste sent for recycling/composting as a % of total municipal waste
  • KPI (f) Municipal waste landfilled as a % of total municipal waste arisings
  • KPI (g) Biodegradable Municipal Waste landfilled (tonnes)
  • KPI (h) Household waste per household per annum (tonnes)
  • KPI (j) Total municipal waste arisings (tonnes)
  • KPI (n) Municipal waste arisings increase/decrease as a % of preceding years arisings
  • KPI (p) Household waste per annum per capita (tonnes)

Quarterly Waste Data Flow returns to NIEA.

No formal benchmarking club exists at present but some ‘ad hoc’ benchmarking of local authority activities is undertaken within the three sub-regional waste management groups, and also via the Northern Ireland Technical Advisory Group.

APSE Northern Ireland represents 13 local authorities, and the Northern Ireland Local Government Association (NILGA) is an associate member.

Not applicable in Northern Ireland.

Rethink Waste NI is a national campaign funded by the Department of the Environment NI, and aimed at raising awareness of sustainable waste management in homes, schools, businesses and workplaces across NI.

Each of the 3 sub-regional waste management groups has a Communication Strategy and carries out joint waste awareness initiatives.

Environmental Youth Speak is an annual waste themed public speaking competition run across all 26 councils (now in it 13th year).

A majority of local authorities are Eco-Schools NI partners.

Landfill tax credits are no longer allocated to waste reduction and recycling activities in Northern Ireland.

The Northern Ireland Assembly Rethink Waste Fund also supports partnership working between local councils and community/third sector organisations on schemes which will boost waste recycling and reuse (both capital and revenue funding potentially available).

Support for local authorities in Northern Ireland is available from WRAP.

Scotland and Northern Ireland Forum for Environmental Research (SNIFFER) addresses knowledge gaps relating to environmental issues.

WRAP Northern Ireland support programme for construction & manufacturing sector, composting, and businesses.

Northern Ireland Environment Link is the forum and networking body for organisations interested in the environment of Northern Ireland.

Consultation due in July 2013

How:
Recycling Bill may follow the Welsh model
Economic Benefits?
The proposed move toward 'Resource Efficiency' will have similar aims to Scotland and Wales: saving money through waste prevention, trying to maximise the value of waste, and to deal with waste as locally as possible.

Consultation on Recyclate Quality, MRF Code of Practice etc are due soon!