DAERA are thankful to all who took the time to respond to this consultation to those who attended the stakeholder events. The overall consultation responses to the proposals in the discussion document were very positive. There was broad agreement from respondents for many of the proposals although there was understandably much divergence of opinion on how these proposals can be best achieved.
We acknowledge the high level of public and stakeholder interest in recycling and the need to set clear direction. The responses from this discussion document will assist with the formulation of future recycling policy, and they have helped stimulate the discussion on why increased recycling is beneficial to both the environment and the economy. We will now consider the evidence and responses provided in more detail, identifying which proposals will be most beneficial for Northern Ireland, including any necessary legislative changes. All proposed changes will then be subject to further consultation. The specific details of new policy design will be developed further in the months ahead, they will be informed by the range of responses received. We will continue to work with all stakeholders and gather further evidence to develop our future policy further. We are now at a turning point regarding the management of our resources in Northern Ireland and decisions we make now about the future of waste and resources will have far reaching and long term impacts for climate change, circular economy and Northern Ireland’s contribution to the UK’s net zero target. Whilst we develop our next steps our immediate focus as we emerge from the Covid pandemic is to re-invigorate recycling rates which have seen a downward trend over the last twelve months. We recognise that we need to normalise recycling behaviours and resume the pre-Covid upward recycling trend. We are currently working with key stakeholders including all local councils on how best to achieve this.