A circular economy produces no waste or pollution and uses fewer resources and energy. It keeps products, parts and materials at their highest use and value at all times. It offers a sustainable alternative to our current linear economy - one where we make, use and then dispose of products parts and materials. This means there is less cost to the environment, precious resources will be saved and more jobs will be created.
We are already operating as a circular economy by the way we consume goods in various ways. For example, car-pooling and the increase in car leasing, reading e-books rather than printed copies, cloud computing and sharing products and resources.
The recycling industry in Northern Ireland
When we use our recycling bins and boxes properly, we help support local recycling firms. Around 80% of our kerbside box materials, and around 25% of recycling bin waste stays in Northern Ireland for recycling. The rest of the recyclable waste goes to other parts of the UK, Ireland and Europe for recycling. This is because waste in blue bins tends to be dirtier and is not of high enough quality to be recycled by Northern Irish companies.
There are more than 1,000 people employed in recycling factories in Northern Ireland, including:
- Natural World Products, Dunmurry, recycles food and garden waste collected from Belfast homes into compost.
- Huhtamaki, Lurgan, recycles paper and cardboard collected from Belfast homes into egg cartons and cardboard drinks holders.
- Cherry Plastics, Dungannon, recycles plastic bottles, pots tubs and trays into industry leading plastic drainage pipes.
- Encirc, Derrylin, Co Fermanagh, recycles glass bottles from kerbside boxes, bottle banks and recycling centres into new glass bottles for use in the global drink bottling industry.
When you recycle, there is a greater benefit to the economy in terms of jobs and investment back into community.
Every item you recycle makes a difference, and managing our waste is everyone’s job.
Tips to reduce your waste
- Consider using cloth nappies rather than disposal nappies. Find out more about our cloth nappy incentive scheme.
- Give any unwanted useful items and good quality unwanted clothes to charity shops to help prevent waste and raise vital funds for good causes.
- Use up leftovers. Food waste is not only a waste of energy, water, transportation and packaging; it is a waste of your money. Always use up leftovers and use your freezer and fridge properly to keep food fresher for longer.
Waste reduction organisations
There are some exciting waste reduction and sustainability initiatives running in Belfast:
Repair Café Belfast
The first Repair Café in NI started in Belfast in 2017. It involves a team of skilled volunteers give up their time to fix your broken items for free, at different locations across the city. Over 1,000 items were fixed in the first two years during 16 Repair Café events. Several other towns in Northern Ireland have followed Repair Café Belfast’s lead by setting up their own Repair Cafes. Find out more about Repair Café Belfast.
Belfast Tool Library
Belfast Tool Library (BTL) is the first tool lending library in Northern Ireland. Tool Libraries work just like any other library. You become a member and then you can borrow tools. BTL is not for profit and is designed to help people borrow items they may only need a handful of times, saving you money, space in your shed and giving you access to hundreds of different tools for a low annual membership fee. Find out more about Belfast Tool Library.