Plans to introduce a compulsory 60% recycling target for local authorities in Northern Ireland have been announced.
Northern Ireland environment minister Alex Attwood said he planned legislation to introduce the new target for local authority collected municipal waste.
The target goes beyond the 50% household waste recycling rate requirement set by the EU, which will have to be achieved by 2020.
Attwood said that despite progress made in recycling over the last decade he wanted to avoid the possibility of complacency.
“Northern Ireland can step up to the plate and surpass the existing target,” he said. “Making the 60% recycling target compulsory gives certainty to everyone involved in this area of the waste industry. They now know where they have to get to by 2020.“
He added that the move would be good for local businesses: “The introduction of this statutory target will also deliver economic opportunities and growth, improved productivity and profitability and ensure local businesses remain competitive in the global market.”
Primary legislation will have to be put in place to give the Department of the Environment the power to introduce the statutory recycling target. There will be a public consultation on the draft legislation to allow stakeholders to help in developing the detail.
There is already legislation in place to set a 70% recycling and recovery target for construction and demolition wastes.
Attwood said support was in place to improve recycling performance: “I remain committed to providing financial support through the Rethink Waste Fund to local councils, the private sector and the community and voluntary sector for initiatives to boost recycling rates and reduce waste being sent to landfill.”