Latest recycling statistics indicate a drop in landfill rate in Northern Ireland

Joseph Doherty, Managing Director at Newry-based recycling company Re-Gen Waste, has been assessing the latest waste collections’ statistics by Northern Ireland Councils.

The recycling, landfill, and energy recovery figures are published every quarter by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) and the July-September 2022 have been released this month.

“It’s useful to compare the statistics to July-September 2021. Unfortunately, the recycling rate has gone down from 52.3 per cent in 2021 to 51.5 per cent in 2022. All 11 Councils in Northern Ireland reported decreases in total waste collections between July and September 2022,” he said. “Household waste makes up around 86% of all Locally Authority collected waste. One of the successes, however, is Newry, Mourne & Down Council which reported the largest increase in their household recycling rate compared to July to September 2021 at 1.4 percentage points. The largest contributing factor to this rise was the increase in waste sent for dry recycling. The Council also had the highest waste energy recovery rate at 42.9%. Newry, Mourne and Down Council had the second lowest rate of landfill (at 5.2%), just after Mid Ulster Council at 3.3%. In my opinion, the best option for the householder is a commingled bin collection like that in Newry, Mourne and Down, in which they can place their plastics, paper, cardboard, glass and metals.

Armagh City, Banbridge & Craigavon and Causeway Coast & Glens also showed an increase in their household recycling rates. The rate decreased in Mid Ulster District Council but the remaining seven local authorities reported similar rates to those in July to September 2021.

Doherty continued, “The landfill rate has dropped from 23.7% in July-September 2021 to 22.8%. This is great news. Methane from landfill is 21 times greater than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas. There is a viable alternative to landfill and, in Newry, we’re manufacturing refuse derived fuel which is exported to highly efficient heat and power plants. This fuel has a low carbon cost and it is going to energy plants with district housing networks where the fuel is used most efficiently. There are three top performing Local Authorities when it comes to landfill and they are Mid Ulster; Newry, Mourne and Down Council; and Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Council. These three Councils landfill the least waste in Northern Ireland. They are managing their waste effectively and in line with the new waste hierarchy. The DAERA report shows that energy recovery has increased by 12% to 24.4%, and that is a better solution than landfilling material.

He concluded, “I believe that we all need to work together to ensure that recyclable material gets to the correct bin. The range of facilities such as household kerbside collections, amenity sites, household recycling centres and street recycling bins all have their part to play in increasing the rate of recycling and reducing the level of material landfilled. Householders are to be commended for their part in placing recycling materials in the right bin.”

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