Council recycling services need simplicity and convenience
However, in council areas where household recyclables (plastic, paper, card, tins and cardboard etc.) can be ‘commingled’ with glass in the same bin, 81% of householders reported that they were happy with how their council has asked them to recycle, with Fermanagh and Omagh Council’s householders being most content, at 87%.
The survey, carried out by Lucid Talk across all 11 council areas, revealed that Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Council’s householders were least happy (48%) with their council’s recycling collection method, followed closely by 58% of Belfast City Council’s householders.
Of the respondents who said they weren’t happy with how their council has asked them to recycle, 62% rated ‘bins are too small’ in the top three most negative factors (out of 10).
A third of respondents who aren’t happy with how their council wants them to recycle rated that they ‘want to recycle glass with their mixed dry recycling’ in the top three factors (out of 10).
Encouragingly, 74% of the householders surveyed across Northern Ireland said that they try to recycle everything they can, however a quarter of the respondents admitted to recycling only when it was convenient for them, but not always.
When asked what would encourage them to recycle more, of the councils that don’t offer a fully commingled recycling service with glass, nearly 50% of all householders said they would recycle more if there was one bin that took all recycling, including glass. This figure rose to 76% of householders in the Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council area.
A fifth of NI householders also said that they would recycle more, if there was better information provided by their council on what they could recycle.
Joseph Doherty, Managing Director of Re-Gen Waste Ltd said: “These survey results indicate that simplicity and convenience are the most significant factors in determining participation by householders.
“Local authorities need to encourage the maximum number of people to recycle the maximum volume of materials, weighed against the cost of processing the material, and the potential financial benefits from reducing landfill costs, and selling on recyclable material.
“The councils we with work in Northern Ireland, England and Scotland tell us that household friendly schemes such as commingling recyclables, are much preferable to residents than pre-sort schemes, using small containers and that working with advanced Material Recycling Facilities (MRF’s) like ours, is actively improving their recycling rates.”
Mr Doherty’s observations are reflected by the survey finding that one in ten people in NI who can’t recycle their glass along with the rest of their recycling waste, will put their glass in the municipal waste (black or grey) bin, compared to three in one hundred people who live in council areas that offer a commingled glass recycling service.
In Belfast, 20% of respondents said they put their glass in their municipal waste bin rather than recycle it, corresponding to a similarly high figure of 17% in Lisburn & Castlereagh and 15% in Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon. None of these council areas offer a commingled glass recycling service.
When respondents who live in council areas where glass is commingled were asked if they would recycle less if they had to place their glass waste into a separate caddy, 35% said they would.
Mr Doherty continued; “More and more local authorities are seeing the benefits and cost savings achieved by switching to commingling collection services, alongside an ultra-modern MRF.
“What we should be doing is taking learnings from Mid Ulster Council, the top performing recycling council in Northern Ireland. Their waste recycling collection is commingled with glass and where other councils are operating several waste collections within their area, Mid Ulster Council has exceeded the EU’s Directive of a 50% household recycling rate by 6.3%, two years before the 2020 deadline.
“Mid Ulster has continued to grow their recycling rate year on year, which would suggest to me that they are doing something right.”