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Saturday, August 7, 1999 Published at 15:35 GMT 16:35 UK


Paper mountain looms in Northern Ireland

New laws may lead to NI waste paper mountain

Northern Ireland could be facing a growing waste paper mountain following the closure of one of the province's two recycling plants.

The shutdown of the Fort James paper mill and recycling plant in Larne, Co Antrim, comes as the government plans to implement new laws on waste recycling.

The legislation, based on European Union environmental directives, requires most waste, including paper, to be recycled.

Previously waste paper would have been dumped in landfill sites but this will soon be outlawed.

[ image: Robin Curry: NI lacks capacity to recycle waste paper]
Robin Curry: NI lacks capacity to recycle waste paper
According to environmental scientist Robin Curry, the legislation is flawed because it doesn't properly define what "recycling" means.

"The legislation has emphasised the collection of materials for recycling - but that's not recycling," he said.

"If we re-process and remanufacture those materials locally in Northern Ireland then, obviously, that's much better than transporting them across to England or across the world."

Container loads of waste paper are currently being exported from Northern Ireland to foreign markets as far away as Indonesia because of the current lack of recycling capacity.

The closure of the Fort James plant in Larne will halve the current capacity and further exacerbate the waste paper problem, says BBC Northern Ireland environment correspondent Mike McKimm.

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