Northern Ireland recycles half its household waste

By Conor Macauley
BBC NI Agriculture & Environment Correspondent

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
The recycling rate was just 10% when figures began to be collected 17 years ago

Northern Ireland has met a Stormont target to recycle half its household waste.

The threshold was reached 18 months ahead of the deadline by recycling metal, plastic and paper and through composting.

The recycling rate was just 10% when figures began to be collected 17 years ago.

It means 50.6% of black bin waste collected between July 2018 and June 2019 was reused.

Much of the increase in recent years has been driven by improved recycling of food and other organic matter.

The news was announced by Stormont officials at a waste conference.

Image caption,
There are different colours and sizes of bins for recycling depending on which council area you live in

More than 870,000 tonnes of rubbish was collected by local authorities in the 12-month period.

A total of 440,000 tonnes was recovered by dry recycling or composting.

Just over 240,000 tonnes was landfilled and the bulk of the rest, between 160-170,000 tonnes was exported for incineration or other energy recovery.

The figures were welcomed by Owen Lyttle, a senior official in the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs.

He said it reflected a "tremendous effort" by all involved, especially the public.

"Being able to meet this demanding target indicates that if everyone takes small steps to change their behaviour then we can make a significant difference, as a country, to protecting and improving the environment."