Waste body warns Northern Ireland “drifting towards a waste crisis”

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editor@newrytimes.com
Wednesday, December 16th, 2020
Community

arc21, the umbrella waste body made up of six local councils, including Newry, Mourne & Down District Council, is warning that if Northern Ireland does not build new waste infrastructure it could precipitate a “waste crisis” with lost opportunities for the Circular Economy and negative consequences for public health, the environment and ratepayers.

 

arc21 proposed waste infrastructure Hightown Quarry - WASTE BODY WARNS NORTHERN IRELAND DRIFTING TOWARDS A “WASTE CRISIS” - Newry Times

 

According to its 2020-2024 Corporate Plan, arc21, arc21 believes that “existing arrangements will become not only unsustainable but also increasingly expensive and will not meet the needs of a modern, 21st-century economy”.

 

 

The coronavirus pandemic has also reinforced the need for “urgent action” to ensure that the sector has the resilience to meet future shocks.

A key priority for arc21 is to reduce Northern Ireland’s over-reliance on landfilling or exporting almost 400,000 tonnes of household waste annually.

 

 

With local landfill sites nearing capacity and concerns growing over the rising financial and environmental costs of exporting waste, arc21 is seeking to develop modern waste facilities instead.

These would increase recycling rates and generate 18 MW of electricity to support the Executive’s ‘green growth’ and clean energy strategies.

The group submitted a planning application for new waste facilities at Hightown Quarry, Mallusk, outside Belfast in 2014.

 

Copywriter Ireland - Paul Malone, Tall Paul Marketing, Freelance Belfast Copywriter - Tall Paul Marketing Blog Writer - Copywriter NI

 

These include proposals for one of the largest recycling facilities on the island as part of an integrated suite of facilities unprecedented in Northern Ireland, including the first Energy from Waste plant able to process a wide range of processed and unprocessed waste.

The facilities are aligned to the Circular Economy and the policy of displacing recyclable plastics from all waste streams.

arc21’s acting Chief Executive, Tim Walker, said, “Northern Ireland is drifting towards a waste crisis because we do not have enough local facilities to treat non-recyclable household waste, let alone our commercial and industrial waste.

“At present, we rely on landfill and waste exports to solve the problem, but both options may be unavailable within the decade.

 

 

“Northern Ireland has already committed to a 10% cap on the amount of waste we send to landfill and several export markets have already closed or imposed punitive taxes on waste.

“The arc21 region produces the equivalent of 15 million black bins’ worth of household waste every year.

“That’s 15 million reasons to say yes to new facilities at Hightown that will give us breathing space to transition to a fully functioning Circular Economy whilst removing the potential risk of a systemic failure in household waste services.

“Located in a quarry near one of Northern Ireland’s largest logistics and industrial hubs at Mallusk, the site also offers excellent opportunities to utilise the energy generated to support new green businesses,” he adds.

Over the next four years, arc21 wants to ensure that waste infrastructure has the resilience needed to safeguard public health and reduce financial risks to ratepayers.

Waste services currently account for 15-20%  of total council expenditure.

Developing modern infrastructure will also help improve recycling rates and provide materials for the circular economy.

 

 

Mr Walker added, “Waste is the ‘Cinderella’ of Northern Ireland’s infrastructure, but it is critical that we invest in new facilities.

“There is chronic under-capacity in the sector to properly treat waste locally and failure to address this gap will precipitate a crisis with financial and environmental consequences.

“Last month’s Ministerial Advisory Panel on Infrastructure talked about turbo-charging infrastructure “to deliver cleaner, greener, sustainable and inclusive growth for all” – arc21’s proposals at Hightown meet all those objectives.

“We can’t keep repeating the inaction of the past.

“The failure to provide proper infrastructure for managing residual waste needs to be addressed with the same focus and sense of urgency that defines the debate over gaps in critical infrastructure such as Northern Ireland’s wastewater services.”

The corporate plan highlights a rapidly changing strategic context for managing waste driven by the Executive’s commitment to reduce carbon emissions in line with the Paris Climate Change Accord, plans to encourage green circular economy jobs and Brexit.

To help councils meet these new challenges arc21 is building upon its waste expertise to support local government meet its climate change obligations and take a lead in developing Northern Ireland’s circular economy.

arc21 provides a range of services to councils to help them deliver their waste management plans.

 

 

These include managing waste contracts which in the past five years have diverted 852,000 tonnes of waste from landfill saving ratepayers £42m, as well as educational work with schools and helping councils generate wealth through waste.

Recycling and composting rates within the arc21 region are now above 50% with an increasing emphasis on improving the quantity and quality of materials such as paper and plastic for reuse in sectors such as packaging.

 

Keep up to date with the latest Northern Ireland business news, marketing tips and tricks and advice for local businesses on the Tall Paul Marketing website.

 

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