Upward Trend in Northern Ireland Waste Volumes Continues

16 August 2021

Upward Trend in Northern Ireland Waste Volumes Continues
DAERA’s latest local authority collected municipal waste management statistics, covering January – March 2021, show the volume of waste councils across Northern Ireland are managing has continued to grow.


The recycling rate increased slightly on the same time period for 2020 but the volume of waste sent to landfill also increased, whilst the volume of waste sent for energy recovery fell.
The total volume of waste collected by Northern Ireland’s councils grew by 11% from January – March 2020, to 250,228 tonnes. 46.7% of this waste was sent for recycling, an increase of 1.3% on the same quarter last year. The landfill rate of waste for January – March 2021 was 25.0%, a marginal increase on the 24.8% recorded a year ago.
Commenting on the latest statistics, arc21’s acting Chief Executive, Tim Walker, said:
“Whilst an increase in the recycling rate is great news, the fact remains that Northern Ireland continues to produce too much rubbish. This leads to us sending a considerable tonnage of waste to landfill, or overseas for incineration. Neither of these practices is sustainable, either financially or environmentally.
The effects of Covid-19 continue to contribute to the amount of waste being produced at home, but the long-term impact remains that we continue to produce too much.  By disposing of our waste by sending it to landfill or exporting it, we avoid confronting this issue - it is out of sight and out of mind. This cannot continue.
With landfill sites rapidly running out of space, and the costs of exports becoming increasingly unpredictable, Northern Ireland needs to avoid being left behind and develop our own infrastructure. It is from this perspective that, working with its councils, arc21 developed proposals for new facilities to deal with its waste. These facilities will also considerably reduce the greenhouse gas emissions arising from waste which will be essential in helping address net zero carbon targets. The arc21 proposals would treat waste as a resource rather than a problem, improve its councils’ recycling rates, and generate heat and power to grow the Circular Economy and create jobs.
Specifically, every year, households in the arc21 region produce 15 million black bins’ worth of rubbish that cannot be recycled. This is landfilled or exported. The development of the new waste management infrastructure would make use of this rubbish, helping to avert a waste crisis which would have considerable negative consequences for public health and ratepayers.”