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Waste and Circular Economy

A Circular Economy is about moving towards a zero waste economy. In our existing linear economy, we ‘take, make, use and dispose’ of resources. We take resources from the ground, air and water; we make them into products and structures; we use them and then we dispose of them. Many natural resources are finite, we cannot therefore build our future on a ‘take–make–use–dispose’ model.

Waste and Circular Economy

In a circular economy, waste and resource use are minimised. The utility and value of products and materials is maintained for as long as possible in a positive loop; resources are kept within the economy for as long as possible to be used repeatedly in order to maximise their inherent value.

This model can produce significant societal benefits including job creation and considerable economic growth. It can promote innovation and technological advancement, reduce landfill and recycling costs, and protect the environment. It can also provide consumers with more durable innovative products, with monetary savings and an enhanced quality of life through environmental and lifestyle improvements.

With associated research and innovation, Northern Ireland should aim to become a market leader in re–use industries to deliver business growth, jobs, reduced waste to landfill and lower greenhouse gas emissions.

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Just over three–quarters (78.6%) of government EPE spend in 2014 was on waste management activities.

Northern Ireland exports waste to many different countries including; Bangladesh, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, South Korea, Lithuania, Malaysia, Mexico, The United States and Vietnam.

The EU Landfill Directive sets statutory targets for reducing the quantities of landfilled biodegradable municipal waste to; 50% of 1995 levels by 2013 & 35% of 1995 levels by 2020.

A current revision of the Northern Ireland Waste Management Strategy has set out new recycling targets: a 50% household recycling rate and a 70% construction and demolition rate by 2020, in accordance with the revised Waste Framework Directive.

The environmental problem considered most important by the largest proportion (39%) of households in 2011/12 is household waste disposal.