Council waste sent to landfill in Northern Ireland fell below 50% for the first time.
Some 48.8% of local authority collected waste was landfilled in the three months to June 2013, according to the latest figures from the Northern Ireland Environment Agency.
The landfill rate was down six percentage points in comparison to the same period last year, and lower than the previous quarter. For the first time since data collection started in 1997, less than half of council waste was sent to landfill.
The decline took place amid rising council waste levels, up from 238,695 tonnes in the second quarter of 2012 to 240,569 tonnes in 2013.
The recycling rate of waste collected by local authorities rose to 42.1% between April and June 2013, its highest ever level for the quarter.
Northern Ireland environment minister Mark Durkan said that the increase showed people were changing their thinking and behaviour towards waste.
“More of us are reusing resources which we would normally have simply classed as waste,” he said.