Northern Ireland records 50 per cent recycling rate in 2020/21

The annual statistics for Northern Irish local authority waste collections were released yesterday by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (Daera), recording a slight fall in recycling rates.

Bins being collectedDuring 2020/21, Northern Ireland’s total local authority collected (LAC) municipal waste arisings were recorded at 1,031,169 tonnes, 3.2 per cent higher than that collected in 2019/20. The statistics note that the tonnage of waste collected at kerbside increased by 12 per cent in 2020/21 compared to the previous year, alongside a fall in waste collected at civic amenity sites, an effect attributed to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Recycling rates fell by 1.1 per cent, from the country’s record high of 51.1 per cent in 2019/20 to 50 per cent in 2020/21. However, the tonnage of waste sent for reuse, dry recycling and composting increased by 0.9 per cent in 2020/21, reaching a record high of 515,183 tonnes.

The two local authorities with the highest recycling rates were Mid Ulster (58.9 per cent) and Antrim and Newtownabbey (56.9 per cent), with the lowest rates being recorded in Belfast (43 per cent) and Derry City and Strabane (46.1 per cent).

The landfill rate for waste collected by councils recorded a new annual low of 22.8 per cent in 2020/21, falling from 74 per cent in 2006/07 and 24 per cent in 2019/20. This was accompanied by an increase in waste arisings sent for energy recovery, rising from 0.4 per cent in 2009/10 and 22.1 per cent in 2019/20 to 25 per cent in 2020/21. Furthermore, the statistics note that 126,4040 tonnes of biodegradable waste were sent to landfill during 2020/21, similar to the quantity reported in 2019/20.

Fermanagh and Omagh once again generated the smallest amount of household waste per capita, at 438kg, whilst Antrim and Newtownabbey, similarly, recorded again the largest figure, at 543kg per capita.

Despite the slight fall in overall recycling rates, the household waste recycling rate of 50.9 per cent still met the targets set by the Northern Ireland Waste Management strategy, which call for a 50 per cent household waste recycling rate by 2020. This target was first met in 2018/19, with the 2020/21 figure representing a decrease of 1 per cent compared to the previous year.

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