history of arc21


The origins of arc21 can be traced back to June 1999 when, following the unsuccessful conclusion of  a large procurement exercise to manage residual waste by a constituent council, a number of councils recognised that a joint approach was a better way to deliver an effective waste management strategy for the region. This collaborative approach was supported by Northern Ireland’s first Waste Strategy (2000) which promoted the development of up to five local government partnerships.  In parallel, in this year, 11 councils joined together to form the Eastern Region Waste Management Group, which was later rebranded as arc21.  Two other partnerships were also formed. 


Within a couple of years, arc21 issued a draft Waste Management Plan (2002), on behalf of the six partner councils, for public consultation.  It considered various options and suggested how the region's waste should be managed until 2020.  The Plan was subsequently approved by Government and adopted by arc21’s partner councils in 2003.

As waste and resource management developed in Northern Ireland, the Waste Management Plan was reviewed in 2006 and, following further public consultations, was approved by Northern Ireland’s Department of the Environment and arc21’s councils in 2008.

Another iteration of the Plan was undertaken in 2014, which was also subject to a public consultation exercise in February/ March with the Department of the Environment approving it in June.  This was ratified by the councils in October.  This Waste Management Plan was  then amended during the summer of 2015 to simply take account of the geographical changes brought about by local government reform.  The Plan is currently (2021) under a further review with discussions underway between the 11 councils in Northern Ireland.  It had been hoped to develop a single 11 council Waste Management Plan but at the time of writing, this is not looking feasible.  

At a similar time to local government reform, the Department of Agriculture, Environment & Rural Affairs (DAERA) replaced the Department of the Environment (DOE) and retains responsibility for the policy with which the councils’ Waste Management Plans must be compliant.