Northern Ireland’s recycling rate increases to over 50 per cent

Northern Ireland’s household waste recycling rate has increased to 51.1 per cent, according to the latest figures for 2019/20 from the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA).

On the back of last year’s figures, which revealed Northern Ireland had recorded its highest ever recycling rate, DAERA has recorded an increase of 1.3 per cent in 2019/20.

Recycling in a binTotal waste arisings – the total quantity of local authority collected (LAC) municipal waste – was 998,985 tonnes, 0.9 per cent higher than those of 2018/19.

The figures showed that the tonnage of LAC municipal waste sent for recycling was even higher than last year, at 510,375 tonnes. The LAC municipal recycling rate was at its highest, at 54.6 per cent, in the second quarter of the year, and at its lowest, at 45.4 per cent, in the fourth quarter.

Household waste accounted for 88.2 per cent of all waste collected during 2019/20. The recycling rate for household waste was 51.9 per cent, while the landfill rate for household waste was 23.7 per cent.

Fermanagh and Omagh generated the smallest amount of household waste per capita at 412 kg, while Antrim and Newtownabbey recorded the largest at 588 kg per capita.

This recycling rate is a narrower scope than ‘household waste’, including material collected from households only, for example from kerbside collections, civic amenity sites or community skips.

The three local authorities with the highest waste from households recycling rate are:

  • Antrim and Newtownabbey – 51.0 per cent
  • Mid Ulster – 50.2 per cent
  • Ards and North Down – 48.8 per cent

The three local authorities with the lowest waste from households recycling rate are:

  • Derry City and Strabane – 30.6 per cent
  • Belfast – 39.0 per cent
  • Causeway Coast and Glens – 42.3 per cent

More than one-fifth of waste arisings were sent for energy recovery in 2019/20, at 22.4 per cent, compared to 19.4 per cent in 2018/19. This has risen significantly since 2009/10, when just 0.4 per cent of LAC municipal waste was sent for energy recovery.

There has been a further decrease in the amount of biodegradable waste sent to landfill, falling to 126,286 tonnes of biodegradable waste sent to landfill during 2019/20. This was 17.6 per cent lower than the 153,323 tonnes sent in 2018/19.

This figure also represents a lower proportion of the reduced annual allowance allocated to councils under the Northern Ireland Landfill Allowance Scheme (NILAS) in 2019/20.