Business

New approach to recycling 'could secure £150m a year for Northern Ireland economy'

Around 20,000 of these 'wheelie boxes' are already in use at three local councils in the north

FIVE leading recycling companies in Northern Ireland have published a report claiming that the region's economy could benefit by £150 million a year if Councils were to adopt household recycling services that generate higher-quality materials for the recycling industry.

An Invest NI-funded scoping study conducted by the Collaborative Circular Economy Network, found that more than £100 million worth of economic value a year is generated in Northern Ireland from manufacturing new products from paper, plastics and glass.

And a further £50 million of economic potential could be realised if additional high quality recyclables were available locally to these manufacturers.

The report also pointed to 'wheelie boxes' - that's three boxes on an integrated trolley system (some 20,000 of these are already in use at three local councils in the north) - as one means of achieving high quality recycling across the region.

The collaborative networks programme was led by social enterprise Bryson Recycling along with Cherry Plastics, Encirc, Huhtamaki (Lurgan) and AgriAD, who together employ more than 1,000 people and recycle plastics, glass, paper and food waste respectively.

Five councils - Belfast, Mid & East Antrim, Armagh City Banbridge and Craigavon, Antrim & Newtownabbey, and Lisburn & Castlereagh - all of whom use a kerbside box recycling service provided by Bryson also participated in the initial scoping study.

The study investigated the dynamic nature of the recycling industry in the north and found that a major limiting factor for these manufacturing companies to their future growth is the availability of high quality recyclables.

Each company has to import recyclables from outside of Northern Ireland to supply their business, while tens of thousands of tonnes of recyclables are exported for recycling outside of Northern Ireland.

Eric Randall, director of Bryson Recycling, who chaired the scoping study, said “This report is helping the government and councils consider the strategic economic potential of remanufacturing recyclables in Northern Ireland.

"Our rubbish is a resource and we should put it to good economic use. This means jobs and economic activity on a much bigger scale than most people realise.”

Niall Casey from Invest NI said: “This collaboration has enabled businesses to work together to scope out how to maximise recycling services to benefit the circular economy.

"The initiative has also given the participating manufacturing businesses the platform to explore potential commercial opportunities from re-using recyclable products.”

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