Over 1 million tonnes of waste are generated in Northern Ireland each year; this equates to 1.75 tonnes per person. This mostly consists of waste coming from households, commercial activities, industry, agriculture, construction and demolition projects, mining and quarrying activities and from the generation of energy. Due to the high quantity of waste that is generated in Northern Ireland it is essential that it is managed in such a way that it is not harmful to human health or the environment.
In the sections that follow you will learn more about waste prevention, where waste comes from and how to dispose of it in a more environmentally responsible manner. You can also check out the Love Food Hate Waste site for further inspiration.
All of the waste we dispose of is currently sent to landfill. Waste that goes to landfill produces methane that contributes to Global Warming. Did you know that methane is 20 times more damaging to the environment than CO2? For every tonne of waste that goes to landfill 4.5 tonnes of CO2 emissions are released. If we did things a little differently we could divert 2/3 of this waste from landfill.
Did you know that there are a number of different types of waste? They include recyclables, compostable material and material that has to go to landfill. Over half of the waste we produce at home can be composted. Do you compost at home? When you compost at home you are just speeding up what Mother Nature is doing all the time anyway! E.g. leaves on the trees rot away into the ground every autumn and act as a natural fertiliser for the soil. If you would like to learn more about home composting and it's benefits take a look at the Rethink Waste website.
Packaging is needed to keep the food healthy. BUT a lot of excess product packaging is just to make the product look bigger and better! This clogs our fast filling landfill sites and plastic waste can be harmful to wildlife. Many items such as plastic and glass can take up to 1000 years to break down in the environment. Next time you go shopping see if you can find upackaged fruit and veg.
Did you know that we throw out at least one third of the food we buy? Think of what you could buy with the money you would save if you didn't buy this excess food! We have put together some useful tips to help you reduce the amount of food waste you produce. Next time you're shopping you can put them into action:
Try playing Belfast City Council's interactive Bin Run game as a fun way to help you learn about waste and waste disposal.
The DOE's Rethink Waste campaign includes a fun game - Sort It Out - which helps people to learn about what we should be doing with different types of waste and waste disposal.
Did you know that we use household hazardous waste products everyday at home for cleaning, gardening, decorating and even for personal hygiene? For example weed-killer, paint, toilet cleaner and nail varnish remover would all be classified as hazardous waste. These products must be stored and disposed of properly in order to avoid a risk to human health and the environment.