Northern Ireland opens waste strategy consultation

Northern Ireland has launched a consultation open to members of the waste industry, which asks them to voice their views on the country’s newly revised waste strategy that shifts focus from resource management to resource efficiency.

The draft revised strategy, ‘Delivering Resource Efficiency’, was released in September, replacing the current waste strategy ‘Towards Resource Management’ as part of the EU’s revised Waste Framework Directive (rWFD) requirements for waste management plans to be revisited every six years.

According to the Department of Environment (DOE), the new strategy follows on from an analysis of the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of the current waste policy and found that the new strategy should ‘take the form of a “recast plus”’, which covers all relevant rWFD requirements whilst also ‘incorporating new forward looking policy proposals including a more challenging recycling target for municipal waste and a landfill restriction on separately collected food waste’.

The main change in the draft plans is a shift in focus from ‘managing’ resources to resource efficiency, which the DOE outlines as ‘using our resources in the most effective way while minimising the impact of their use on the environment’. The strategy attempts to achieve this through ‘the introduction of new and challenging targets and actions’.

The most ‘significant’ policies highlighted in the draft strategy include:
• The development of a Waste Prevention Programme (as required under EU law by 12 December 2013);
• The introduction of separate collection of at least paper, metal, plastic and glass by 2015 (but it will be acceptable for these to be collected by co-mingling as long as it ‘does not compromise the quality or quantity of the individual waste streams’).
• A new 60 per cent recycling target for local authority collected municipal waste;
• The introduction of a statutory requirement on waste operators to provide specified data on commercial and industrial waste;
• The introduction of an overall packaging recovery rate of 79 per cent and a recycling rate of 72.7 per cent by 2017;
• The introduction of a landfill restriction on food waste;
• The potential for the devolution of landfill tax;
• The implementation of a 5p levy on single-use plastic carrier bags (rising to 10p per bag by 2014);
• The development of detailed proposals for an Environmental Better Regulation Bill.

Consultation questions stakeholders are invited to answer cover: attitudes to resource efficiency; thoughts on what the Waste Prevention Programme should contain; the role of Key Strategic Drivers; the propriety of the proposed policies and actions in achieving waste prevention; ideas as to how landfill restrictions on food waste could work in practice; and the role of voluntary responsibility deals in waste strategy.

The DOE notes that though the current waste strategy runs until 2020, the revised strategy is intended to be more open ended so that though some targets are linked to 2020, some, including ‘actions in support of reducing greenhouse gases, EU policy on biodegradable waste and proposals in respect of waste infrastructure’ will stretch beyond that date.

The closing date for responses is 18 January 2013.

Read the consultation paper and the draft revised Waste Management Strategy.