The Department of the Environment has launched a consultation into plans for a compulsory target for councils in Northern Ireland to recycle 60% of household waste by 2020.
Environment minister Alex Attwood (left) said that the target, which goes beyond the 50% household waste recycling rate required by Europe, would be challenging but was what people wanted.
The 60% target would be lower than that of Wales, at 70% by 2020, but higher than England’s 50% target.
The consultation will seek views on whether the target should be a single target or stepped, who the targets should apply to and what should constitute “recycling”.
In 2011/12, Northern Ireland local authorities recycled 38.4% of collected municipal waste, a fourfold increase in ten years. Attwood said the keeping the same pace and creating a compulsory target would help meet the 60% goal.
Attwood said the target would create more certainty in the waste industry, create opportunities for local businesses and help move towards a low carbon economy.
“It would stretch our ambition but I believe people want us to do so,” he said. “The enthusiastic welcome for the carrier bag levy last month demonstrated how people want to make a contribution to deal with waste and ease climate change. A 60% recycling target in our homes and towns would do precisely that.”
The consultation ends on Monday 2 September. Attwood hopes to bring a Bill to the Northern Ireland Assembly early next year, which would enable the powers needed to introduce the 60% target.