Recycling rates in Northern Ireland have for the first time surpassed landfilling, provisional data for the first quarter of 2014-15 indicates.
Some 44.5% of municipal waste collected by councils was recycled or composted between April and June this year, up 2.4 percentage points in comparison to the same period last year.
Landfill rates fell by 7.8 percentage points to 40.9%.
It was the first time local authorities recycled more waste than they sent to landfill, which was described by Northern Ireland’s department of environment as a “tipping point”.
“It is good to see that we have finally turned the corner when it comes to making use of our resources. Rather than burying them in the ground, we are finding new ways to recover some of their value,” environment minister Mark H Durkan.
“Less landfill means lower rates being spent on landfill tax and less impact on the environment from lower emissions of greenhouse gases. I would encourage everyone to keep up the good work to reduce, reuse and recycle.”
Statisticians indicated that one of the reasons for the increase in recycling was the warmer and drier weather experienced in the period, with 40mm less rainfall and warmer minimum and maximum temperatures.
However, waste arisings also increased to 257,614 tonnes, up 6.7% in comparison to the same period last year.
Northern Ireland recycled or composted some 38.7% of waste collected by local authorities in 2012-13. Final figures for the year 2013-14 will be released in November.