A huge upsurge in household food and garden waste is expected over the coming weeks and months due to the coronavirus pandemic, Northern Ireland’s leading organics recycling company has said.

Natural World Products (NWP) processes organic household material which it converts into compost, delivering around half of all recycling from collected household waste streams in Northern Ireland.

The company’s Chief Executive Colm Warren said councils should prioritise the collection of organic material over the coming weeks to not only deal with the upturn but to keep effective household recycling practices at the forefront of people’s minds.

Colm said:

“In a normal April, we would handle over 20 thousand tonnes of discarded organics from households in Northern Ireland alone, but that figure will in all likelihood be eclipsed this year.

“As householders are required to stay at home to prevent the spread of COVID-19, we are expecting a significant uplift in volumes of organics – especially discarded food scraps – to come through domestic waste collections.

“Families will be having all their meals at home, generating additional food waste, while we anticipate garden waste to increase as people turn to outside jobs such as grass cutting to occupy their time.

“People can play their part in ensuring organic materials are disposed of in the correct manner, providing, of course, it continues to be collected by their local authority.

“It is imperative that councils make the collection of food and garden waste a priority to ensure such material does not end up in the black or grey bin and then ultimately in landfill or incineration, bringing with it all the associated additional costs to local authorities and ratepayers – in addition to the negative and highly undesirable environmental impact at a time when the effective recycling of this type of material is playing such a crucial role in the fight against the other global emergency we are currently battling – climate change.

“A tonne of organic compost applied to soil is equivalent of around 375kgs of CO2 kept out of our atmosphere – close to 900kgs where it replaces peat-based fertilisers, as it often does in this country.
“In a black or grey bin, that carbon saving will be lost and we’ll actually only be adding greenhouse gases as well as costing our local ratepayers almost double the disposal cost. It’s a time for cool heads and clear thinking from our local authorities and NWP and its partners in the recycling sector stand ready to help wherever we can.”

NWP is headquartered in Dunmurry with additional recycling facilities in Antrim, Keady, Co Armagh, and Drumanakelly, Co Down.

A range of measures have been put in place across all sites to ensure the business is capable of handling increased volumes of material during the period of the pandemic.

Food and garden waste processed by NWP is converted into high quality organic compost which is then used by councils, agri-growers and the horticultural sector across Northern Ireland and further afield – a clear demonstration of a local circular economy in action.

Customers include Hillsborough Castle and Gardens and Royal Portrush Golf Club which used NWP compost to prepare the Dunluce course for the Open Championship.