Agenda item


The Committee considered the undernoted report:


“1.0      Purpose of Report or Summary of main Issues


            To notify Committee of the current discussion document on the ‘Future Recycling and Separate Collection of Waste of a Household Nature in Northern Ireland’ and to present the draft Belfast City Council response to the document.


1.2       The Department of Agriculture, Environment & Rural Affairs (DAERA) is seeking views on a public discussion document on the ‘Future Recycling and Separation of Waste of a Household Nature in Northern Ireland’.


1.3       The document sets out the current position of recycling in Northern Ireland, and the regulatory, climate change and market drivers that will influence policy in the future. It seeks views on a range of proposals, which will help shape the landscape of waste management in Northern Ireland.


1.4       Over the next year, there will be an introduction of a range of new requirements relating to the management of waste as part of the Circular Economy Package.  This includes requirements around recycling and the separate collection of waste. 


1.5       In particular, businesses who produce mixed waste and waste which is similar in nature and composition to waste from households will be required present their waste for recycling.  As with households, businesses will be required to facilitate the separate collection of the main household waste streams such as paper, metal, plastic and glass.  These measures do not extend to waste resulting from production.


            This discussion document as stated by DAERA does not introduce any new policies (at this stage), but rather seeks views on steps towards improving the quality and quantity of household and non-household recyclate in Northern Ireland whilst having minimal impact on businesses and householders.


1.6       The proposals presented within the document are separated into various sections covering a range of topics that DAERA would like to receive views on. Given the large number of questions posed, which cover a wide range of issues and stakeholders, respondees are encouraged to complete the sections in the response that are of interest or relevance to them.


1.7       The Discussion Document should be read in conjunction with the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) report on Municipal Recycling Potential in Northern Ireland 2020


            The Consultation opened on 26 June 2020. The closing date is 04 October 2020.


            During August and September 2020, DAERA have been arranging a series of virtual workshops aimed at different sectors affected by the proposals, including businesses and local authorities. These workshops, facilitated by WRAP and NILGA, included a targeted session for key elected members (on 27th August 2020) to provide a strategic overview of all proposals within the document.


1.9       Belfast City Council Waste Officers have drafted up responses to the questions posed within the discussion document.


1.10      Arc21 will also be drafting up a separate response to the Consultation. Given there is such a range of waste collection methodologies across the arc21 region, it is likely that the arc21 response will focus on the objectives and issues needing addressed, in order to support the circular economy, rather than on the specifics of collection.


1.1          Subject to the outcome of this Discussion Document there will be a further consultation in 2021 on regulatory changes to implement these measures and on potential supporting guidance.


2.0       Recommendations


2.1       The Committee is asked to:


·         Note the Discussion Document on the ‘Future Recycling and Separate Collection of Waste of a Household Nature in Northern Ireland’; and

·         Consider and adopt the draft Belfast City Council response to the Discussion Document (available here).


            Main report


3.1       The Discussion Document sets out the current position of recycling in Northern Ireland, and the current and new regulatory, climate change and market drivers that will influence policy in the future. It seeks views on a range of proposals, which will help shape the landscape of waste management in Northern Ireland.




3.2       A recent WRAP study), has looked at the feasibility of Northern Ireland reaching the 65% recycling targets for the new definition of municipal waste  which will now include business waste of a household nature.


3.3       The study identified that in order to make this feasible, there would be significantly more business recycling required.


3.4       The study also indicated that the most appropriate collection models for household collections were those which include the full range of dry recyclable materials that could be collected at kerbside (paper, card, glass, cans, glass, and plastic containers), where food waste would be collected weekly, garden waste collections would remain and some form of further residual restriction could be implemented.


3.5       The study showed that higher capture of food waste and corresponding restriction in residual waste were the most important design factors particularly in being the least costly, complementary and higher performing scenarios.


3.6       For wider municipal collections the optimum scenarios were for businesses and the public sector to have regular collections of dry recyclables (paper, card, and drink containers), a separate glass collection where this material was generated, food waste collections for all businesses and a residual collection for any remaining non-recyclable waste material.


3.7       Since March 2020, the Covid-19 virus has resulted in significant changes in the operations of businesses and other organisations, including an increase in the number of people working from home or furloughed. These changes have and will continue to impact waste arisings and composition for the foreseeable future.


3.8       Long term impacts on recycling and waste arisings and operations are unknown and it will take a while to properly understand data to determine the cross sector impacts. WRAP will undertake an initial review of the impacts of Covid-19 on the sectors affected in this study to identify any early trends in results and implications on resource management for the next few years.


3.9       Notwithstanding the impacts of Covid-19, DAERA is progressing with seeking to address how best achieve the changes outlined above.


3.10      In summary, views are being sought on how to:


·         improve the quality of recycled materials as well as increasing the quantity collected;

·         ensure there is a strong linkage between waste management and the local economy as opposed to the historical emphasis on solely meeting the EU Directive targets;

·         assist in realising the potential economic benefits to the local economy, thus supporting Northern Ireland move towards a circular economy;

·         help Northern Ireland improve our ‘municipal waste’ recycling rates and reduce the amount of materials going to landfill: and

·         help reduce carbon emissions, greenhouse gases and pollution in NI.


3.11      The specific measures that views are being sought on to increase non-household and household recycling are provided below.


            Business and other organisations producing municipal waste


3.12      WRAP estimates that between 30-40% of municipal waste which is similar in nature to household waste produced by businesses and other organisations, is currently recycled. Given that the waste composition profiles of these sectors suggest high proportions of recyclable products, this represents an opportunity to increase recycling in this sector and a significant step towards a more circular economy.


3.13      Proposal 1: To review the food waste regulations to ensure obligated businesses segregate food waste for collection


3.14      Proposal 2: To require businesses and other organisations to segregate their recyclable waste from residual waste so that it can be collected and recycled by waste collectors.


3.15      Proposal 3: To review the impact on businesses in rural communities so that they are not disproportionally affected by laws introduced to increase recycling of non-household municipal waste.


3.16      Proposal 4: To review options to maximise business recycling whilst alleviating cost burden on businesses


3.17      Proposal 5: In advance of implementing changes to business recycling, to work with waste producers and waste collectors to improve reporting and data capture on waste and recycling performance of businesses and other organisations. Any requirements will be subject to further consultation.


            Improving recycling from households in Northern Ireland


3.18      WRAP estimates that households have the potential to achieve 58% waste recycling by 2030. The challenge is to develop recycling collection systems that can capture increased quantity at the right quality, be economic and at the same time reduce confusion about what can be recycled.


3.19      DAERA suggests that these goals could be supported by non-binding performance indicators to help Councils to deliver high quantities of good quality recycling and are consulting on what the indicators might look like and whether this approach would assist Councils to help deliver recycling ambitions.


3.20      DAERA acknowledges the fact that the current weight-based recycling targets may favour the collection and recycling of heavy materials, for example garden waste, over measures to promote dry recycling.


            Carbon intensity is one metric that has been used widely as an alternative for measuring recycling performance.


3.21      Reforms to producer responsibility may drive further changes in product design and make weight-based metrics less effective at driving environmentally sustainable behaviours.


3.22      DAERA is seeking views on how best to apply supplementary targets to weight-based targets and metrics:


3.23      Proposal 6: That all Councils in Northern Ireland should be required to restrict capacity for residual waste from households to help divert more materials into the recycling waste streams.


3.24      Proposal 7: By 2023 to legislate for Councils to provide all kerbside properties and flats with access to at least a weekly collection service for food waste.


3.25      Proposal 8: That all Councils in Northern Ireland should be required to collect a core set of dry recyclable materials at kerbside from houses and flats.


3.26      Proposal 9: That the core set of materials will be glass bottles and containers, paper and card, plastic bottles, plastic pots tubs and trays, and steel and aluminium tins and cans.


3.27      Proposal 10: To review this set of core materials regularly reviewed and, if appropriate, expand over time.


3.28      Proposal 11: To review the separate collection of materials in Northern Ireland and supporting guidance to help clarify the position on current and future collections assisting Councils and waste operators in decision making on separate collection.


3.29      Proposal 12: To provide national guidance for Northern Ireland to help establish greater consistency in recycling and waste collection services and reduce confusion for households.


3.30      Proposal 13: To continue DAERA support for ‘Recycle Now’ campaign and the tools produced by WRAP to help Councils and other campaign partners to communicate effectively on recycling.


3.31      Proposal 14: To work with Councils and others to improve transparency of information available to householders on the end destination for household recycling.


3.32      Proposal 15: To introduce statutory legislation in line with the other three UK nations requiring Material Recovery Facilities to report on input and output materials by weight to determine the average percentage of target, non-target and non-recyclable material.


3.33      Proposal 16: To develop an updated set of recycling and waste indicators to monitor performance and cost efficiency as well as to highlight where services may be improved. To work with Councils to develop these and other indicators to reflect areas such as quality or contamination levels and service delivery.


3.34      Proposal 17: To look at metrics that can sit alongside weight-based metrics and to work with stakeholders to develop these to better measure reductions of carbon emissions associated with waste in Northern Ireland.


3.35      The Councils draft response to the questions posed within each proposal category is available on


3.36      Financial & Resource Implications


      There are no financial or resource implications in responding to the consultation.


3.37      Equality or Good Relations Implications


      There are no Equality or Good Relations implications in responding to the consultation.”


            The Committee adopted the draft Belfast City Council response to the DEARA discussion Document ‘Future Recycling and Separate Collection of a Household Waste Nature in Northern Ireland’.


Supporting documents: