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Northern Ireland has already lost opportunities afforded by the Northern Ireland Climate Act to tackle the climate emergency due to Stormont being suspended for two years and the consequent lack of resources. Meeting targets to reduce emissions will be incredibly challenging, and changing behaviour to enable that will be even more difficult.

Yet it is critical that we put our best foot forward and make sure that we have the right frameworks in place at both UK-wide and Northern Ireland levels and that the resources to properly implement the necessary changes are available.

Northern Ireland cannot operate in isolation; it needs to work with the UK government, the Irish government, and the governments in the other devolved regions. It is critical that in the next mandate our Members of Parliament press for this cooperation and ensure that Northern Ireland is properly resourced in its efforts to fight the climate emergency. In this election, the climate and environment must be a top priority for our politicians, not just during the campaign but for the years ahead. If we take the right actions,

A Better Tomorrow is possible.

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Get Ready For Plastic Free July 2024

Maria McLaughlin    Wed 05 Jun 2024

Plastic Free July 2024 Helpful Tips!

Trying to cut down on single-use plastic or cut plastic usage out altogether why not…

• Buy less - avoid disposable products and single-use packaging.

• Do a Bin Audit - Are you recycling, composting, or avoiding waste correctly?

• Coffee cups - Bring or borrow a reusable coffee cup or dine-in at your local café.

• Water bottles- BYO reusable water bottle instead of buying plastic ones.

• Reusable shopping bags - Bring your own shopping bags and help reduce plastic waste.

• Loose produce - Find plastic free alternatives when buying fruit & veg as well as baked goods such as rolls and pastries.

• Meat, fish & deli- Avoid the plastic trays used for meat, fish and deli items.

• Cleaning - Avoid using cleaning products packaged in single-use plastic.

• Laundry - Simple laundry choices can keep clothes smelling fresh while helping to reduce microplastics.

• Food Storage - Use alternatives to cling wrap and reduce plastic pollution.

• Dental care - Plastic-free toothbrushes, toothpaste and floss.

• Sanitary items - Alternatives to tampons and pads for a plastic free period.

• Soap - Swap liquid soap for bar soaps and avoid single-use plastic.

• Shaving -Swap disposable razors for reusable alternatives.

Find your tribe – at home, school or work and spread the word!

Sign up to commit to reducing single-use plastic https://bit.ly/4atzcQQ

The local winners of the international Blue Flag Award and the UK-wide Seaside Award have been revealed for 2024. 

Five council areas have been rewarded for their work in maintaining environmental excellence. 

Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful announced that 9 beaches and 7 marinas earned the prestigious Blue Flag Award distinction after meeting world-class standards in criteria such as safety, accessibility, cleanliness, environmental education and, for beaches, water quality. 

The local success does not end with the Blue Flag. A further 6 beaches received Seaside Awards, the UK’s mark of quality that ensures visitors are guaranteed to find a clean, safe, attractive, and well-managed coastal stretch. 

Dr Ian Humphreys, CEO of Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful said: 

‘We are incredibly pleased to see so many local beaches and marinas have been successful at this year’s awards. Each flag shows the public that these are sites worth visiting and cherishing. Keeping our beaches tidy is essential to our environmental and economic future. 

I want to thank the many workers across winning sites who helped make this happen. Their work is critically important in making Northern Ireland a place with the best European beaches and marinas.’ 

The Minister for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, Andrew Muir said: “I am delighted that once again so many of Northern Ireland’s beaches have received the coveted Blue Flag and Seaside Awards, and that our first-class marinas have also been recognised. These awards are a testament to the hard work and dedication of those who manage our beaches. The awards let our citizens and people around the world know that Northern Ireland is open for business and that our beaches and marinas are clean, well-managed and safe to enjoy.” 

Mayors from across councils, and beach and marina operators were invited to collect the awards at a presentation ceremony at the Slieve Donard Hotel, Newcastle, on 7th May. The occasion was organised by Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful, who manage the accreditations locally.  

This year’s awards ceremony was sponsored by the Slieve Donard Hotel, and supported by DAERA. 

The award-winning locations will now have their respective flags in place for the Northern Ireland bathing season, which runs from 01 June to 15 September. 

Notes to editors

Blue Flag Beach Award winners – Benone Beach, Castlerock Beach, Cranfield Bay, Downhill Strand, Murlough Beach, Portrush East Strand Beach, Portrush West Strand Beach, Tyrella Beach, Whiterocks Beach. 

Blue Flag Marina Award winners –Ballycastle Marina, Ballyronan Marina, Bangor Marina, Belfast Harbour Marina; Coleraine Marina, Portrush Harbour and Marina, Rathlin Marina. 

Seaside Award winners – Ballycastle Beach, Ballywalter South Beach, Cloughey Beach, Groomsport Beach, Millisle Beach, Waterfoot

Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful is a charity working towards the vision of a world where people and nature thrive, by running environmental-education programmes and awareness-raising campaigns, increasing volunteering opportunities and reporting on local environmental quality. Programmes include the national civic-pride campaign Live Here Love Here, Tackling Plastic NI, Tackling Textiles, Carbon Literacy training, and local environmental quality programmes, such as Eco-Schools NI, Blue Flag Award, Seaside Award, Green Flag Award, Cleaner Neighbourhoods and Marine Litter surveys. For more information, visit www.keepnorthernirelandbeautiful.org. 

DAERA Marine and Fisheries Division monitors Northern Ireland’s bathing water quality during the bathing season, which runs from 1 June through 15 September. During this time, water quality is assessed on 20 different occasions at each location.  The DAERA water quality assessment is used to determine which award is applicable.  The Blue Flag requires ‘Excellent’ status whereas the Seaside Award requires at least ‘Sufficient’ under the Bathing Water Regulations. 

Tackling Plastic in Sport

Maria McLaughlin    Wed 01 May 2024

Plastic pollution impacts all walks of life: climate change, wildlife and human health and generates lots of waste. While plastic can be useful it’s the overuse and disposal that causes problems. Sport has the unrivalled ability to motivate and inspire large numbers of people. You have the opportunity to stop plastic in sport – it will be a complete game changer!

To find out more go to: https://bit.ly/3wiotde

The maiden voyage of Dundrum Coastal Rowing Clubs new marine litter boat took place last Saturday 9th March 2024.

This new boat will allow for the recovery of litter in areas of Dundrum Bay that cannot be safely reached by foot. Speaking about the project funded by Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful. Cathal Ó hÍr from Dundrum Coastal Rowing Club said, “We are delighted to have been awarded funding for the shallow draft boat, which will allow us to carry out regular clean ups along Dundrum Bay and its four contributing rivers. This boat will provide access to areas not safely reachable from land. This will help, not only to improve the shoreline in terms of biodiversity and aesthetics, but also the health and wellbeing of our local community. We will also be able to carry out educational awareness projects demonstrating how marine litter can damage our beautiful area and how with this boat we can alleviate this harm”.

Chris Gourley, Waste and Pollutions Solution Strategic Lead at Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful says, “This grant scheme is designed to reduce the environmental impact of litter on our marine eco systems. We have been delighted with the diverse range of innovative projects this year which want to tackle waste entering the marine environment as well as removing what is already there. Marine litter is a global challenge, affecting the world’s oceans, seas, coastlines and shores. A wide range of material such as plastics, metals and glass end up in our marine environments and these all decompose very slowly if at all. The most commonly found litter is plastic.”

Photo Caption: from left Orla McGrady Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful, members of Dundrum Coastal Rowing Club - Cathal Ó hír, Adrian Mullan, Andrew Boyd (club chair) and Robert Graham.

Ulster University, in collaboration with environmental charity Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful and the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs is tackling plastic waste and climate change with the installation of a thought-provoking art installation which serves as a recycling bin, at its state-of-the-art Belfast City Campus.

Launching in February to capitalise on staff and students’ commitments to be more environmentally considerate, this ‘Single-Use Plastic Bottle Bin’ is designed to both remove plastic bottles from the general waste stream and increase awareness and responsibility amongst the Ulster University community on the threat of plastic pollution.

Linking into Ulster University’s Sustainability Strategy, the 6ft tall container has been created by local metal artist Peter Lorimer to evoke the appearance of a soft drink bottle. The visual impact of the design acts as a reminder of the scale of the plastic problem in Northern Ireland and as a nudge to the public to recycle plastic waste or better still refuse it altogether.

Marie-Louise Gaile, Sustainability Manager at Ulster University said: “At Ulster University we are responding to the climate emergency and biodiversity challenges through our Sustainable Futures for All strategy. The University provides vital research output and learning on the transition from a ‘take-make-waste’ linear economy to a circular economy where waste is designed out and materials are reused and remanufactured.

“We manage our University resources sustainably and support staff, students, and visitors to make greener choices while travelling to and when on campus. We re-use materials across the University through our sharing portal where otherwise unwanted items are posted and claimed by departments which helps reduce purchasing, disposal and environmental impacts and our general waste is diverted from landfill by being recycled or used to generate electricity.

“This engaging and visually-striking installation will further improve awareness, encourage action, and motivate our staff, students, and visitors to integrate sustainable behaviours into their daily lives and reduce harmful plastic waste.”

In helping to set up the initiative, Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful aims to highlight the persistent problem with plastic pollution. The 2022 Marine Litter Report, produced by the charity, found that 90% of the litter found on our beaches in Northern Ireland is made of plastic. This is the highest since the survey began in 2012.

Chris Gourley, Waste and Pollutions Solutions Strategic Lead at Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful comments: “This waste project provides a transparent, imposing reminder of the scale of our plastic consumption. It’s not just about collecting plastics; it's a concerted effort to raise awareness of the significant impact of plastic pollution to address the serious issue of litter in our environment. By introducing these bins and promoting the principles of reduce, reuse, and recycle, we hope to encourage behaviours such as carrying reusable water bottles and seeking alternatives to single use plastics.”

The ‘Single-Use Plastic Bottle Bin’ has been installed through Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful’s ‘Tacking Plastic Northern Ireland’ programme, which is funded by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs. The programme encourages the public, councils, schools and businesses to avoid buying single-use plastic and to make a commitment to reduce pointless plastic by signing a ‘Plastic Promise’. Visit www.liveherelovehere.org/plasticpromise to find out more.


For more information contact:

Maria McLaughlin

Tackling Plastic Communication Officer



New Waste Prevention Guide for Business

Maria McLaughlin    Tue 09 Jan 2024

This new guide focuses on Single-Use Plastic Reduction and the Circular Economy. In this guide, we explore practical strategies and steps to help businesses transition towards a circular model, where waste is prevented where possible, then minimised, resources are conserved, and single-use plastic is eliminated. By embracing these principles, your business can play a crucial role in creating a more sustainable future while benefitting from cost savings and enhanced brand reputation.

Read it at:www.keepnorthernirelandbeautiful.org/businesses-tackling-plastic

David McCann   Tue 31 Oct 2023   updated: Tue 20 Feb 2024

Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful Launch Plastic Survey In The Sports Arena

Maria McLaughlin    Mon 16 Oct 2023   updated: Tue 21 Nov 2023

Insights needed on the impact of single-use plastics in sports

Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful has launched a timely survey aimed at assessing the impact of single-use plastics in Northern Ireland's sports clubs.

The online questionnaire is part of the charity’s work on waste and pollution, which seeks to understand and reduce the impact of plastic pollution in the Northern Ireland environment.

Chris Gourley, Waste and Pollution Solutions Strategic Lead comments, “This survey is about us gaining valuable insights into how sports clubs tackle plastic waste, and the challenges they face when doing so.”

The “Single-Use Plastics Usage in Northern Ireland's Sports Clubs” survey is open to new responses until 13 November 2023.

All responses received will help to provide a comprehensive overview of the efforts being made in the sports community to reduce single-use plastics and ramp up efforts to shape effective strategies for the future.

Chris continues, “We already know that there are clubs doing sterling work to reduce waste and in particular single-use plastic waste. Sports clubs are in a unique position of influence and can really set a good example leading the way in sustainability”.

This survey and the subsequent report on the Impact of Single-Use Plastics Usage in Northern Ireland's Sports Clubs have been made possible through the support and collaboration of the Department of Agriculture, Environment, and Rural Affairs (DAERA). All responses will be kept confidential and anonymous.


For more information contact:

Maria McLaughlin

Tackling Plastic Communication Officer



Pilot scheme tackled single-use plastic and period poverty

Belfast City Council is celebrating after winning a Behaviour Change Award for tackling single-use plastic.

The council was awarded the accolade by environmental charity Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful for its trailblazing free reusable period products project, which has been recognised as an impactful and pioneering initiative.

Chris Gourley, Waste and Pollutions Solutions Strategic Lead at Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful comments:

“The judges for this award were thoroughly impressed by the efficiency and thoughtfulness of this project, which not only tackles plastic waste but also addresses the pressing issue of period poverty. The project not only demonstrates concern for the environment but also showcases the council’s commitment to promoting inclusivity and sustainability within the community. By offering free reusable period products, the council have provided a practical solution to reduce single-use plastic waste, helped to break down stigmas, and ensured that all individuals have access to essential products without compromising the environment.”

Plastic pollution is a global concern that poses severe threats to ecosystems, marine wildlife, and human health. By implementing innovative solutions like providing free reusable period products, councils can actively contribute to the reduction of plastic waste and create a cleaner, healthier environment for generations to come.

Belfast City Councillor and Chair of People and Communities Committee, Micky Murray comments “Introducing small positive changes to all aspects of our everyday lives with a focus on tackling environmental issues can have such a positive impact. The amount of plastic within single use period products is staggering. This pilot project is such unique way of addressing an issue that I’m confident not many people knew about. Encouraging the use of reusable, non-plastic period products is helping provide a long-term solution to dealing with plastic contaminating our general waste.

“It’s fantastic to see Belfast City Council recognised for implementing this scheme and leading from the front to normalise the use of reusable period products. I want to congratulate all of our staff for their efforts in making the scheme such a wonderful success.”

Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful opened applications for this award to all Northern Ireland councils, to acknowledge and bolster their commitment to changing behaviours and habits related to single-use plastic consumption.

Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful works closely with local councils to encourage new ways to avoid the proliferation of pointless plastics in our communities and to pursue alternatives that are kinder to our planet. Outlined in our strategic plan is the aim to eliminate single-use plastics in-house in all Councils in Northern Ireland by 2023. All 11 councils have signed up to the Plastic Promise - this is a pledge that councils make to reduce and phase out their use of single use plastics from day-to-day operations. Councils can use the Plastic Promise to focus on eliminating specific plastic items, and they are invited to renew their pledge as they make progress.

Chris Gourley continues, “This project serves as a model for other councils in Northern Ireland facing similar challenges, inspiring them to adopt sustainable practices and behavioural changes. Well done Belfast City Council”.