Northern Ireland has achieved a 50% household recycling rate, according to the latest figures from the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs.
The report on the local authority-collected (LAC) municipal waste covers April to June 2017.
The 50% rate for household waste preparing for reuse, dry recycling and composting was up from 46.4% recorded during the same three months of 2016. At individual council level, rates varied from 43.2% in Derry City & Strabane to 58.3% in Mid Ulster.
The achievement means that England is now firmly in last place of the four home nations, and it is the stalling English rate which threatens to prevent the UK hitting its required target of 50% by 2020.
Northern Ireland’s councils collected 263,167 tonnes between April-June 2017, close to the 262,883 tonnes collected during the same period a year earlier.
The LAC municipal waste energy recovery rate was 17.6%, an increase of 1.6 percentage points on the April-June 2016 rate of 16%.
The latest quarterly landfill rate for household waste was 32.2%, down from 37% recorded during the same three months of 2016.
This is the ninth release of waste data collected since local authorities in Northern Ireland were reorganised into 11 councils. Eight of the 11 were split into two waste management groups with three not affiliated to any group.
The group with the largest share of the population is arc21 with 59%, the North West Regional Waste Management Group has 16% of the population with the remaining 25% residing in councils belonging to no group.