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UPDATE: Northern Ireland publishes waste prevention programme

Northern Ireland has finally published its waste prevention plan, almost a year after a European deadline of December 2013.

The 35-page document lists activities the Department of Environment will take to reduce waste, with a particular focus on food.

But as with the contested English plan, the Northern Irish programme does not contain specific waste prevention targets.

Progress will be assessed by measuring the amount of household waste arisings per unit of household expenditure.

The indicator aims at analysing the relationship between waste production and economic growth.

The amount of commercial and industrial waste, as well as construction and demolition, will also be measured when more reliable data becomes available.

As part of waste prevention activities, the department will develop another communication campaign on the wake of the recent ‘Rethink Waste’ initiative. Food waste will be a priority stream to tackle.

Another measure included in the plan is the widening of the carrier bag levy, which from January 2015 will be extended to low-cost reusable bags.

The environment department will also develop a reuse and repair network across Northern Ireland and a standard to boost consumer confidence in reuse goods.

The waste prevention programme was released on 30 September 2014, more than nine months after the December 2013 deadline set by the European Commission.

A consultation on a draft document was launched in September 2013, and a version expected for May 2014.

A spokesperson for the Department of Environment told MRW the plan was delayed to allow a “fundamental and strategic review of waste issues” to be undertaken.

“The review was requested following the discovery of significant amounts of illegal waste at a site in Campsie,” she said.

The issue of criminal infiltration in waste actives in Northern Ireland was highlighted in an independent study published in December 2013, the Mills Report.

“The departmental response to the Mills Report was published in April 2014,” said the spokesperson.

“Following consideration of the report recommendations, the departmental response and [an] action plan to implement the commitments given by the minister, the waste prevention programme was finalised and cleared over the summer months for publication in September 2014.”

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