‘NI Waste Infrastructure Gap’ could precipitate a Crisis

09 June 2021

NI Waste Infrastructure Gap could precipitate a Crisis
A recently published independent report has confirmed that arc21’s proposed waste management facilities at Hightown Quarry are essential for the delivery of its waste management strategy and to avoid a potential waste crisis.


The report, conducted by Tolvik Consulting, a leading provider of independent market analysis in waste and energy, drew on information including the latest DAERA waste statistics which showed that the volume of waste produced in NI is continuing to rise.
Tolvik projects that by 2035 NI will still be producing over 500,000 tonnes of non-recyclable residual waste per year. Taking into account the impact of Brexit and Covid, and assuming that arc21’s facilities are built, and that we achieve a recycling rate of 65% - there will still be a 124,000 tonne gap between the rubbish NI produces and the capacity available to treat it locally.
At present, non-recyclable rubbish is managed through landfill, which produces methane as it rots; or is exported overseas for other countries to extract its value through energy recovery. Neither option is environmentally or financially sustainable, and is an increasing reputational risk for Northern Ireland as people’s awareness of the impacts grows. In line with the council’s Waste Management Plan, this is why arc21 is seeking to develop modern waste management facilities at Hightown Quarry, chosen following an open site selection process.
Every year, households in the arc21 region (the six councils in the east of Northern Ireland) produce 15 million black bins’ worth of rubbish that can’t be recycled.
arc21 wants to develop new waste facilities, similar to those used extensively throughout the UK, Ireland and Europe, to manage this waste. The proposal is to develop one of the island’s largest recycling facilities (a Mechanical Biological Treatment – MBT – plant) and NI’s first Energy from Waste (EfW) facility which has the capacity to treat a wide range of waste streams.
The Tolvik report concluded that “together with existing thermal treatment facilities, the arc21 EfW facility will be required if residual waste generated in Northern Ireland is to be recovered in Northern Ireland”.
Tim Walker, arc21's Acting Chief Executive, said:
“The Tolvik report confirms what arc21 has previously stated – that Northern Ireland is consciously stumbling towards a waste crisis due to the lack of modern facilities to process residual, non-recyclable rubbish. Households within the arc21 region produce 15 million black bins’ worth of non-recyclable rubbish every year. We’re currently relying on landfill or exporting waste to other countries to deal with on our behalf. This is unsustainable.
arc21’s proposal is to develop an appropriately sized, safe, affordable and reliable waste management facility that provides a better environmental solution than our current waste management approach. It will also allow us to create jobs and support the Circular Economy.
Tolvik has confirmed the need for arc21’s proposed waste management facilities. We hope the relevant government departments will fully consider this latest evidence in their assessment of arc21’s proposals.”