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Household Recycling Targets

Oral Answers to Questions — Environment – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 2:30 pm on 13th October 2015.

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Photo of Andy Allen Andy Allen UUP 2:30 pm, 13th October 2015

T1. Mr Allen asked the Minister of the Environment whether his Department is on course to meet its household recycling targets. (AQT 2981/11-16)

Photo of Mark Durkan Mark Durkan Social Democratic and Labour Party

I thank Mr Allen for that very important question, which is the first that I have received from him, and which many householders and business owners ask me on a regular basis.

Different councils deal differently with their recycling. As a consequence, different councils perform differently when it comes to the recycling rates that they achieve. Tomorrow, I will meet the waste programme board, which is the strategic oversight body for dealing with waste right across the North. That will give me a better insight into who is performing well, how they are performing well and who maybe needs extra help. My Department offers much assistance to councils in that regard through capital grants that are available to councils for plant and machinery to aid them in their recycling efforts.

In response, I suppose, more to the question, at last glance, councils were performing well, and we as a region are performing well. In fact, the quarter before last was the first time ever that we actually recycled more waste than we sent to landfill, which was quite a landmark achievement. However, we cannot afford to be complacent. We have to keep reinforcing the messages to and through our councils on the importance of recycling not just to our environment but to our economy.

Photo of Andy Allen Andy Allen UUP

I thank the Minister for his answers thus far. Can he outline what engagement his Department is having with the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment to meet the target for electricity from renewable sources by 2020?

Photo of Mark Durkan Mark Durkan Social Democratic and Labour Party

I thank the Member for that question. My officials are in regular contact with their DETI counterparts on that issue. We have a target set down for the outputs from renewable energy that we aspire to in the Programme for Government, and that is that 35% of energy should be produced from renewable sources by 2025. Currently, as things stand, and if we keep going as we are, we would hit about 33·3%, which is less than the target but is an admirable enough effort nonetheless. Other considerations, though, will now have to come into play following on from Minister Bell's statement in the Chamber two weeks ago on the Northern Ireland renewables obligations and the culling of subsidies to renewable energy providers. That will obviously have an impact on how much renewable energy is produced.