Resource Use

Northern Ireland’s recycling rate reaches 50 per cent

Northern Ireland’s household waste recycling rate has increased to 50 per cent, meeting the EU target to recycle 50 per cent of household waste by 2020, according to the latest figures from the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA)

Northern Ireland’s recycling rate reaches 50 per cent

The ‘Northern Ireland local authority collected municipal waste management statistics’, published today (28 November), reveal that Northern Ireland has recorded its highest ever recycling rate, rising from 48.1 per cent in 2017/2018 to 50 per cent in 2018/19.

In terms of total waste arisings, the total quantity of local authority collected (LAC) municipal waste was 990,233 tonnes, a 1.3 per cent increase on 2017/18.

The statistics show that the tonnage of LAC municipal waste sent for recycling reached a record high of 491,957 tonnes, increasing by 5.8 per cent compared to the previous year. The LAC municipal recycling rate rose by 2.1 per cent to 49.8 per cent, with dry recycling and composting rates both accounting for 1.1 per cent of this increase.

Nine Northern Irish councils increased their household waste recycling rates compared to last year, with Causeway Coast & Glens reporting the largest increase of 5.5 per cent to 47.7 per cent. The recycling rates for Newry, Mourne & Down and Antrim & Newtownabbey have increased by 5.3 per cent and 3.9 per cent respectively, with DAERA explaining that these increases can be attributed to a rise in household waste composting.

Waste from households

With regard to ‘waste from households’, Northern Ireland’s recycling rate was 48.5 per cent in 2018/19 – 3.4 per cent higher than England’s 45.1 per cent.

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 & Newtownabbey – 55.8 per cent
  • Mid Ulster – 55.2 per cent
  • Ards & North Down – 52.5 per cent

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

  • Derry City & Strabane – 38.7 per cent
  • Belfast – 42.6 per cent
  • Causeway Coast & Glens – 44.7 per cent

Incineration and landfill

In terms of the amount of LAC municipal waste sent to energy-from-waste (EfW) facilities, 192,537 tonnes of waste was incinerated in 2018/19 – an energy recovery rate of 19.4 per cent compared to last year’s 18.4 per cent. This has risen significantly since 2009/10, when just 0.4 per cent of LAC municipal waste was sent for energy recovery.

There has also been a decrease in the amount of LAC municipal waste sent to landfill, falling by 10.4 per cent from 319,212 tonnes to 285,905 tonnes between 2017/18 and 2018/19.

You can view the full 2018/19 waste management statistics for Northern Ireland on the DAERA website.