27/02/2002

Minister challenges ‘throwaway’ attitudes to waste

The Environment Minister Dermot Nesbitt has opened a conference in Londonderry designed to challenge a throwaway mentality towards waste.

The two-day conference, which opened on Wednesday February 27 at the North West Institute of Further and Higher Education Campus in Londonderry, aims to focus on ways to tackle waste management particularly in the North West region of the province.

Mr Nesbitt said: “Quite simply, recycling is far too low. We need a culture change at local level. It is at the local level that we generate waste. It is at the local level that we can put in place services to deal with the waste.”

According to the DoE only 3 per cent of waste is recycled in the Northwest. This is half the Northern Ireland average and 42 per cent less than the Netherlands.

The minister stressed that waste management was a global issue. “A tough directive has come from the EU instructing member states to produce plans to reduce, re-use and recycle waste,” he said. “We are obliged to respond to this because in Northern Ireland, each household produces 1.4 tonnes of waste per annum.”

The exhibition and conference will include a public debate on the issue and is part of an extensive consultation process in a bid to gauge public opinion on the future of waste management in the Northwest and across the province.

Derry City Council and six other councils have come together to form a North-West Region Waste Management Group. They include Ballymoney, Coleraine, Derry, Limavady, Magherafelt, Moyle and Strabane.

The Mayor of Londonderry, Alderman Mildred Garfield said: “We hope the public debate will assist the council in exploring all the arguments for and against the variety of waste management options available to the council over the next decade.

“Illegal dumping of waste throughout the council area is costing more than £1million pounds each year, and it is crucial that we involve the entire community in getting the strategy right for tackling waste issues.” (AMcE)

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