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NI looks to divert difficult waste streams from landfill

Northern Ireland environment minister Mark Durkan is exploring reuse options for types of waste that currently end up in landfill, including plasterboard from construction waste and poultry litter.

Speaking at at the Northern Ireland Assembly, Durkan said he wanted to divert “known Northern Ireland waste streams” including gypsum, chicken litter, meat meal, bonemeal and tyres.

Mark Durkan

He said: “That will obviously reduce the amount of waste to landfill.”

The announcement follows the Going for Growth report released by the Agri-Food Strategy Board in April 2013, which stated that an “urgent solution and intimate arrangements must be agreed immediately for the treatment of poultry litter”.

In October 2014, the Northern Ireland Executive published its response to the report, which stated: “The Executive will continue to work with industry in its efforts to secure a solution to meet European Commission requirements and the needs of the industry.”

An Executive project has led to a £12m loan scheme to co-fund the development of two demonstrator plants to utilise poultry litter.

Durkan recently confirmed that his department’s Environment Agency staff were assisting food company Moy Park in finding alternative ways to use chicken waste during a recent expansion.

This was so that Moy Park could meet its obligations under the Nitrates Directive. It came into force in January 2007, outlawing farmers’ use of poultry bedding as fertiliser to protect waters against pollution.

MRW previously reported that gypsum reprocessors in the UK and Republic of Ireland had come together to improve recycling rates for plasterboard waste, forming a trade body called the Gypsum Re-processors Association UK & Ireland (GRAUKI).

GRAUKI said it would seek out alternative sustainable solutions for gypsum waste, “to capture greater volumes of otherwise wasted gypsum, help to preserve raw materials and discourage irresponsible disposal by rogue traders”.

This would be achieved by contributing to legislation, setting up sector steering groups, and engaging with the Environment Agency, Defra and WRAP as a cohesive group.

Currently, non-hazardous waste containing gypsum must go to a separate cell for high sulphate waste or to a landfill free from biodegradable waste. Hazardous gypsum waste must be disposed in a hazardous waste landfill.

Meat and bonemeal are also banned from landfill.

The Northern Ireland Department of Environment recently reported that waste to landfill was down 14% year-on-year, with 39.9% of household waste being landfilled in the three months to September 2014.

For 2015/16 Northern Ireland has an overall landfill allowance of 277,142 tonnes, with this falling to 220,000 for 2019/2020.

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