Recycling rates in Northern Ireland “will flat-line” if a new education and communication programme is not implemented, according to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).
It said without action to stimulate waste management and recycling in the country Northern Ireland will not meet statutory targets, incurring significant EU fines.
The country achieved a 2009/10 municipal recycling rate of 33.1% and it is currently consulting on a 60% recycling rate by 2020. However, the annual rate of increase in municipal waste recycling in Northern Ireland has slowed from 6% in 2004/05 to 1.5% in 2009/10. RICS Northern Ireland spokesman Michael Doran antipated this slowdown to continue.
He said: “It is very difficult to see how we are going to meet the targets if there isn’t some kind of significant impetus. In my view, this needs to be a large education and communication programme that communicates both the need for and the benefits of recycling. Some people might argue that we can’t afford such a programme at present with the pressures on public spending, but the reality is that we can’t afford not to – not least due to the potential fines that we would incur if we don’t meet the EU targets.”
Doran believes significant delays in the appointment of waste facility developers in the three waste management council groups - arc21, North West Waste Management Group, and Southern Waste Management Partnership - also caused a lull in progress for recycling rates.
Environment minister Alex Attwood expressed disappointment in July after data showed waste arisings had actually increased by 2.6% from January to March against the previous year.