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Circular economy

  • A sustainable and alternative economy

    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 per cent 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.

  • Claim your free family recipe book

    UK households waste 6.5 million tonnes of food every year, with 4.5 million tonnes of this food still being edible. An average family of four can save just over £60 a month by reducing their food waste. The aim of this recipe book is to try to reduce the amount of food we throw away, while creating dishes that are easy to prepare, low-budget and produce as little waste as possible. 

    Our family recipe book is full of delicious and quick meal ideas for breakfast, lunch and dinner, which focus on using the many different ingredients and food stored in our cupboards and fridge-freezers.

    It also includes:

    • helpful hints and tips on how to better store food at home
    • how to understand food use by and sell by dates
    • meal planning ideas
    • tips to reduce food waste

    For a copy of the book please email

  • 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.

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