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One of the businesses Tackling Plastic in N. Ireland is the Ionad Fíona Wine Centre (www.AbsoluteOrganicWine.com ) in Draperstown. Established in 1984 the company began specialising in organic and vegan wine in 2009 for those also on a journey of sustainability and accountability.

The Ionad Fíona Wine Centre is certainly doing its bit as it tries to make the business more environmentally friendly by removing single use plastic from deliveries and balancing its carbon footprint by planting trees and re-wilding land on their estate.

The team Eugene McKenna and Brigid McKenna Moore, from the Wine Centre are both wine and environmental enthusiasts as Eugene explains, “Our mission is to provide responsible quality products so removing single use plastics from our deliveries was a deliberate and conscious decision. We want to encourage consumers to reflect on the journey, delivery and origin of products as we believe that every business and person can make a difference when it comes to being environmentally responsible”.

Eugene continues, “We are trying to engage with organisations like Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful so that we can communicate our mission with authority and integrity. We are mostly an online delivery company but we have already completed our Carbon Literacy Training and are now tackling single use plastic throughout the business.”

Future plans

Next year they are planning the first Organic and Vegan Wine Festival for November 2023. Brigid explains, “We are passionate about the mission of vegan wines and food- we would like to help enlighten people and provide products that take care of the environment and preserves it for future generations. We are proud to be a wine company that focuses on organic, biodynamic, vegan wine, we will always try to keep things real. Our philosophy is to provide all our products and services in a sustainable manner”.

If you would like to get involved in Tackling Plastic in your business please get in touch info@keepnorthernirelandbeautiful.com

#TacklingPlasticNI #PlasticFree #CarbonLiterate #EUWWR22

Environmental charity, Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful has released its annual Cleaner Neighbourhoods report, which reveals a snapshot of the local environmental quality of all eleven council areas across Northern Ireland. While the overall picture of the streets has slightly improved after a worrying spike during the lockdowns of 2020, drinks packaging, including plastic bottles and disposable coffee cups, continues to be a major problem, with rural roads being disproportionately affected.

The report also recommends the use of nudge behaviour from councils to encourage the public to use bins where available. The number of areas surveyed that failed to meet acceptable standards of cleanliness is revealed within the report, down 3% from last year’s results with 15% of the areas surveyed now below standard. Dog fouling has also returned to pre-pandemic levels, following a dramatic increase in 2020, with instances of dog fouling recorded down 7% from last year to 6%.

Commenting on the report, Charmaine Beer from the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs said, “Whilst payments for ground litter by producers of packaging are not currently planned for Northern Ireland, they will pay costs for the management of packaging in street bins and will also pay for prevention activity for littered packaging such as communication campaigns targeting litterers. Under the new Extended Producer Responsibility scheme payments will be made by packaging producers to NI councils for management of household packaging waste from 2024, which will amount to £35million per year in NI. There will be clearer binary labelling on all packaging from 2026 to help consumers recycle correctly and plastic flexibles and film will have household collection for recycling from 2027. All of these will provide a great incentive to do the right thing.”

The findings from this year’s survey took a close analysis of litter related to food packaging, particularly drinks, with plastic bottle, hot drinks cups, lids and straws found in 50% of the areas surveyed. Most surprisingly, 90% of rural roads featured littered drinks packaging and cigarette butts remained the top item of litter found in NI, with 65% of all areas surveyed having so form of cigarette litter present.

Dr Ian Humphreys, CEO of Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful, said, “With the environment once again on the top of the agenda as COP27 is underway, we are reminded that action is required globally and here in Northern Ireland.

“The amount of litter we are now having to deal with is extremely concerning – it’s not only unsightly but it has a real impact on council budgets, wasting money that could be spent on other public services and helping deal with the cost-of-living crisis. There’s no evidence to suggest that human nature has fundamentally changed over the past number of decades, but what has changed is the amount of plastic packaging being produced, which grown exponentially over the past 15 years, which is why it’s misleading to lay the problem entirely at the feet of the public. We need to have an honest conversation about this issue and that is why manufacturers and retailers need to step up and take their share of the cost of cleaning up the mess on our streets.”

Although the report reflects the army of litter-picking volunteers across Northern Ireland doing their best to keep our streets free from litter and a safe place for the public to come together, Charity CEO says more needs to be done to try and stop litter at the source.

Ian added, “We are very disappointed in the recent announcement that litter will not be retained in UK wide Extended Producer Responsibility legislation. This means the loss of millions of pounds annually which would have funded clean-up operations and alleviated the pressure on ratepayers. We believe this is a missed opportunity to ensure that packaging producers take on their share of the responsibility for this societal problem.”

For more information and to read the full Cleaner Neighbourhoods report visit: Cleaner Neighbourhoods Report (keepnorthernirelandbeautiful.org)

Statement on COP27

Christopher Walsh   Tue 01 Nov 2022

Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful supports the principle of COP. We want to see rapid global action to tackle the climate emergency, and believe that through a mix of legislation compelling new innovative approaches and behaviour change, we can make meaningful progress. It is, therefore, essential that governments and relevant sectors meet under one roof to understand and discuss the challenges of the crisis.

At a local level, we also want to see maximum engagement from Northern Ireland at COP27, so that we can play our necessary part. Specifically, we need to progress the plans to make the Climate Change Act a reality, and this will require bringing forward the Environment Strategy. The climate emergency must be a top priority for a new Executive.

We strongly embrace the theme of this year’s conference, which emphasises collective and urgent action. Hope exists and is possible, but global action must empathically deliver on the targets set for our climate, nature and environment.

A world-class leadership programme designed to unearth, inspire, and equip 30 ‘exceptional potential leaders’ under the age of 30 has been launched in Northern Ireland for the first time by environmental charity Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful, and will be delivered in partnership with the North American Association for Environmental Education and Podiem. Financial support for the programme has been provided by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA), Pacem, Pinsent Masons and Danske Bank.

‘30 Under 30’ (30U30) will offer successful applicants the opportunity to attend a series of six prestigious, half-day workshops delivered by internationally renowned thinkers and leaders. The focus will be on inspiring and enabling participants to develop their skills, confidence and leadership potential in the company of a supportive and environmentally focused peer group. At the end of the programme, the top five class members will receive a bursary to pursue their own transformational project and one class member will receive a scholarship to attend the North American AEE Conference later in 2023.

Edwin Poots MLA, Minister for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs said of the new programme:

“Talented young people from Northern Ireland have, for many years, benefitted from international development opportunities such as the Washington Ireland Programme and others, and have gone on to inspiring leadership roles in many different spheres. The 30 Under 30 programme is very much the environmental equivalent of these prestigious initiatives and will give young people with a passion for the environment the chance to learn, to connect with others and ultimately to shine. And they will be able to avail of this opportunity and international connections from right here in Belfast. My department is very proud to support Northern Ireland’s inaugural 30U30 class and looks forward to proudly observing the future success of these young environmental champions.”

Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful’s Chief Executive, Dr Ian Humphreys said:

“I have for several years found inspiration in the North American Association for Environmental Education’s 30 Under 30 programme and have dreamt of bringing it to Northern Ireland, where I know we have such a wealth of young talent. I’ve watched young leaders like Emer Rafferty and Rosalind Skillen come through our Eco-Schools and Young Reporters for the Environment programme, then the international 30 Under 30 programme, to a point where they are now regularly speaking up for Northern Ireland’s young people on the world stage at international events like COP. I look forward to seeing more young environmental leaders forging ahead in other spheres of our society, in business, in agriculture, in science and in politics; and I very much see this new Northern Ireland chapter of 30U30 as a way of enabling that to happen.”

Kevin Kelly, Founder and Director of Podiem said:

“Over the next 6 months the 30U30 participants will hear from some of the most inspirational thought-leaders in Europe and will return to their sectors and fields of interest with the leadership tools to drive positive climate action. We are delighted to be working with a premium group of partners on a programme which marks the next phase in our Sustain Exchange ecosystem which consists of a proactive community of planet-conscious leaders and organisations”.

To apply to the 30U30 programme, young people between the ages of 16 and 30 are invited to complete a 20 minute form and short video application at www.sustain-exchange.com/30-under-30. The closing date is Sunday 23rd October at 11.59pm. Successful applicants will be required to be available for programme workshops on six dates (Thursdays and Fridays in Belfast) between 27 October to 24 March 2023.

In addition, the first 40 applicants to the programme will secure a complimentary place at the Sustain Exchange Summit at Titanic Belfast on 27 October, featuring an influential line up of speakers.

Ends.

Notes to Editors

Photo captions: Environment Minister Edwin Poots MLA launches 30 Under 30 at Titanic Belfast with representatives from Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful, Podiem, Danske Bank, Pacem and Pinsent Masons

Environment Minister Edwin Poots MLA launches 30 Under 30 at Titanic Belfast with (left to right) Elizabeth Crossan, Pacem, Richard Murphy, Pinsent Masons and Chris Martin, Danske Bank

For more information on 30 Under 30, please contact Chris Walsh, Communications Coordinator, Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful.

christopher.walsh@keepnorthernirelandbeautiful.org / 07469 671432

Environmental charity, Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful has released its latest Marine Litter Report, which reveals more than double the amount of litter on Northern Ireland’s beaches from the same period last year.

The 2021 Marine Litter Report (reports are published retrospectively) shows that, on average, 762 items of litter were found per 100 metres of beach surveyed; up from 375 items the previous year. A total of 36,587 items of litter were found throughout the survey period on Northern Ireland’s twelve survey beaches.

The surveys in Northern Ireland are funded by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) and the data collected is fed into the International OSPAR Commission database to help in developing a global scientific understanding of this significant problem and to inform actions to address the issue.

Community-based campaign, Live Here Love Here is supporting communities across Northern Ireland to pitch in and help tackle the issue at local level and has issued a final call to apply for its Marine Litter Capital Grants Scheme. Funded by DAERA, applications are open to organisations and groups from across Northern Ireland until 16 September 2022.

Now in its second year, the scheme is making £198,000 available for ideas that help to prevent litter from entering Northern Ireland’s waterways, including lakes, coastlines and riverbanks.

The Marine Litter Report once again names and shames the worst culprits in terms of the type of materials found at the beach. Of the top ten most recorded items, five were made of plastic and polystyrene, many of which were broken down into small pieces. 81% of all litter recorded was plastic, which commonly includes drinks and fast food or snack packaging and lids.

Other commonly found items included discarded PPE as well as short pieces of string, cord and rope, and heavy-duty gloves, which saw a resurgence during the survey period, despite having decreased steadily in previous years.

Commenting on the Marine Litter Report, Environment Minister Edwin Poots MLA said, “Naturally, I am disappointed that the levels of litter recorded on our beautiful coastline increased during 2021. It is especially disappointing considering the downward trend which started back in 2018.

I remain optimistic, however, that the coordinated approach my Department has adopted, including forthcoming legislation to increase the maximum fixed penalty available to councils for litter offences to £200, will ultimately be successful and the blight of plastic pollution will one day be a thing of the past.

I am proud that my Department has sponsored initiatives such as the Marine Litter Capital Grants scheme which is managed by Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful. The scheme funded a range of novel and interesting projects during 2021. The 2022 scheme is now open for applications and I would encourage everyone to get involved.

Finally, I would like to thank everyone who has removed litter from our environment and would encourage everyone not to litter; please leave no trace.”

Helen Tomb, from Live Here Love Here partnership, which is managed by Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful, and which administers the marine litter grants, added:

“Marine litter, particularly plastics, has an incredibly negative effect on animals and eventually on humans, as it proceeds up the food chain. We are proud to deliver the Marine Litter Capital Grants scheme for a second consecutive year. Funded by DAERA, it was extremely successful last year with a real mix of practical and creative entries. The overall aim is to prevent litter from reaching the marine environment, and as 80 per cent of marine litter comes from land-based activities, grants are available for projects right across Northern Ireland. The deadline for applications is fast approaching, so we would strongly encourage those eligible to apply and help us to make Northern Ireland cleaner, greener and safer.”

Read the full Marine Litter Report at www.keepnorthernirelandbeautiful.org/marinelitter. More information on the Marine Litter Capital Grants is available at www.liveherelovehere.org/marinelittergrants.

Ends.

For more information and interview requests please contact Navigator Blue:

Annette McCormick

a.mccormick@navigatorblue.com

075 6387 4593

Translink Targets Plastic Pollution At Belfast Station

Christopher Walsh   Mon 15 Aug 2022

NI’s biggest transport provider Translink has continued its effort to tackle plastic waste and climate change with the introduction of a specially designed recycling bin at its Lanyon Place Train Station in Belfast. Launched in partnership with environmental charity Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful and the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, the ‘Single-Use Plastic Bottle Bin’ will both remove plastic bottles from the general waste stream and grow awareness for Translink commuters on the threat of plastic pollution.

Linking into Translink’s Climate Positive Strategy, the 6ft tall, purpose-made receptacle has been created by local metal artist Peter Lorimer to resemble the appearance of a soft drink bottle. The visual nature of the design and the educational information it displays will serve as a reminder of the scale of the plastic problem in Northern Ireland and a nudge to the public to recycle plastic waste or refuse it at source.

The initiative builds on the success of a separate single use plastics bottle bin that Translink installed at its North West Transport Hub in Derry-Londonderry. In operation for over 12 months now, positive passenger engagement with the bin has resulted in the removal of over 40,000 plastic bottles from waste generated at the station.

John Thompson, Head of Health, Safety and Environment at Translink said: “Translink recognises that it has a significant role to play in leading the transformation of public transport in NI. Translink’s commitments through the Better. Connected Strategy and our Climate Positive Strategy is creating a path for a healthier, greener and more sustainable future for generations to come. We are driving out waste and protecting and enhancing our natural heritage by reducing waste through employee and customer awareness, and through robust waste segregation, reducing the over-extraction of finite natural resources. This initiative at Lanyon Place will equip us to take another step forward in Translink’s journey to zero-waste and further improve awareness amongst our staff, customers and the public on the need to reduce the use of single-use plastics.”

Yvonne Leslie, Single-Use Plastics Policy Adviser at DAERA said: “DAERA is delighted to fund this initiative in conjunction with Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful. Initiatives like these bins will really make a difference to protect our natural environment. Of course, we would like to see the use of more reusable bottles and a reduction in the amount of single use plastic being purchased where possible, but this initiative by Keep NI Beautiful and Translink will help reduce the amount of litter on our streets and in turn prevent plastic from entering our seas.”

In helping to set up the initiative, Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful aims to highlight the persistent, council-wide problem with plastic pollution that has been particularly widely reported in Belfast in recent months. The charity will soon publish their annual Cleaner Neighbourhood Report 2021/22, which indicates that 50% of 554 areas surveyed across the country contained some form of drinks-related litter present. Their Litter Composition Report and the Litter Composition Producers Report will follow next year and take a deeper dive into the plastics issue.

Chris Gourley, Waste and Pollutions Solutions Strategic Lead at Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful said: “These ad-hoc bins are a transparent, living and inescapable monument to the mountain of plastics that we continue to create at all times. They provide another space to manage the plastic waste that passes through a particularly busy station, but much more importantly, they remind us that the plastic problem is still very much with us as an issue and that we need to abandon our single-use culture.”

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.

[Photo Caption] From Front to Back: Christopher Walsh, Communications Officer, Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful and Yvonne Leslie, Single-Use Plastics Policy Advisor, DAERA join Rachel McCann, Environment Team, Translink and Owen Cormican, Facilities Manager – Property Department, Translink for the launch of the single use plastics bottle bin at Lanyon Place Station, Belfast

Translink Targets Plastic Pollution At Belfast Station

Christopher Walsh   Mon 15 Aug 2022

NI’s biggest transport provider Translink has continued its effort to tackle plastic waste and climate change with the introduction of a specially designed recycling bin at its Lanyon Place Train Station in Belfast. Launched in partnership with environmental charity Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful and the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, the ‘Single-Use Plastic Bottle Bin’ will both remove plastic bottles from the general waste stream and grow awareness for Translink commuters on the threat of plastic pollution.

Linking into Translink’s Climate Positive Strategy, the 6ft tall, purpose-made receptacle has been created by local metal artist Peter Lorimer to resemble the appearance of a soft drink bottle. The visual nature of the design and the educational information it displays will serve as a reminder of the scale of the plastic problem in Northern Ireland and a nudge to the public to recycle plastic waste or refuse it at source.

The initiative builds on the success of a separate single use plastics bottle bin that Translink installed at its North West Transport Hub in Derry-Londonderry. In operation for over 12 months now, positive passenger engagement with the bin has resulted in the removal of over 40,000 plastic bottles from waste generated at the station.

John Thompson, Head of Health, Safety and Environment at Translink said: “Translink recognises that it has a significant role to play in leading the transformation of public transport in NI. Translink’s commitments through the Better. Connected Strategy and our Climate Positive Strategy is creating a path for a healthier, greener and more sustainable future for generations to come. We are driving out waste and protecting and enhancing our natural heritage by reducing waste through employee and customer awareness, and through robust waste segregation, reducing the over-extraction of finite natural resources. This initiative at Lanyon Place will equip us to take another step forward in Translink’s journey to zero-waste and further improve awareness amongst our staff, customers and the public on the need to reduce the use of single-use plastics.”

Yvonne Leslie, Single-Use Plastics Policy Adviser at DAERA said: “DAERA is delighted to fund this initiative in conjunction with Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful. Initiatives like these bins will really make a difference to protect our natural environment. Of course, we would like to see the use of more reusable bottles and a reduction in the amount of single use plastic being purchased where possible, but this initiative by Keep NI Beautiful and Translink will help reduce the amount of litter on our streets and in turn prevent plastic from entering our seas.”

In helping to set up the initiative, Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful aims to highlight the persistent, council-wide problem with plastic pollution that has been particularly widely reported in Belfast in recent months. The charity will soon publish their annual Cleaner Neighbourhood Report 2021/22, which indicates that 50% of 554 areas surveyed across the country contained some form of drinks-related litter present. Their Litter Composition Report and the Litter Composition Producers Report will follow next year and take a deeper dive into the plastics issue.

Chris Gourley, Waste and Pollutions Solutions Strategic Lead at Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful said: “These ad-hoc bins are a transparent, living and inescapable monument to the mountain of plastics that we continue to create at all times. They provide another space to manage the plastic waste that passes through a particularly busy station, but much more importantly, they remind us that the plastic problem is still very much with us as an issue and that we need to abandon our single-use culture.”

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.

[Photo Caption] From Front to Back: Christopher Walsh, Communications Officer, Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful and Yvonne Leslie, Single-Use Plastics Policy Advisor, DAERA join Rachel McCann, Environment Team, Translink and Owen Cormican, Facilities Manager – Property Department, Translink for the launch of the single use plastics bottle bin at Lanyon Place Station, Belfast

The unsung heroes of Northern Ireland’s best loved parks and green spaces were today encouraged to continue making space for nature at the annual Green Flag awards. Keynote speaker, wildlife cameraman, Colin Stafford-Johnson, whose rewilding of his childhood garden captivated audiences on BBC Two last autumn, said that he is no longer interested in planting anything but native species. Stafford-Johnson, who has worked on landmark series like Planet Earth, and whose father, Barney Johnson was Ireland’s first TV gardener, said that things are changing and people are now seeing the beauty and ecological value of wild spaces that would once have been regarded as ‘untidy’.

Parks receiving Green Flags at the ceremony included old favourites like Belfast Botanic Gardens, Kilbroney in Rostrevor and Carnfunnock in Larne as well as community spaces like Rathfern Activity Centre, Newtownabbey and Toome Linear Park in Antrim. There were also some impressive new entries such as from Ark Community Gardens in Newcastle.

This year also saw the very first special Pollinator Award category for parks which had achieved green flag status but were also implementing habitat creation and restoration measures for pollinating insects which will, in turn, benefit all wildlife. This was achieved in a number of ways including pollinator friendly planting schemes, no mow meadow areas, introducing native hedgerows and native tree planting, eliminating the use of pesticides and herbicide, providing signage on the importance of sites for pollinators, and engaging with the wider community.

Ninety-three parks and open spaces have been recognised with a Green Flag Award for 2022, including 18 community managed sites and 8 heritage award sites.

The winner in the category that recognises sites managed by larger, formal organisations (organisation category) was Castle Park and Walled Garden in Bangor, and the winner of the community pollinator award was Clotworthy Courtyard Garden, managed by Friends of Antrim Castle and Gardens.

Three other awards were given to Billy Neill MBE Country Park which was Highly Commended, and Queens University Belfast and Grange Park, Omagh which were both Commended.

The Green Flag Award is an internationally recognised certification for environmental quality management for parks and open spaces and is increasingly sought after in Northern Ireland since the local programme opened in 2008.

Dr Ian Humphreys, Chief Executive of Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful which manages the local Green Flag Awards programme, said;

“Urban parks are one of the Victorian era’s great achievements and their relevance and importance continue today. Communities across the country value their local parks enormously and their potential to support biodiversity is being increasingly recognised. They’re not just spaces for us, they’re spaces for nature. When you visit a Green Flag site you can be reassured that the location is being managed to a really high standard as they’ve been through a rigorous judging process that assesses sites across a range of issues including their horticultural standards, cleanliness, biodiversity and safety. It’s so encouraging, this year, to see councils, organisations and communities implementing such a wide variety of measures to help our pollinating insects which are severely under pressure. Some of the initiatives are bold and some are subtle, but all show great commitment to working with nature for the benefit of the environment and us all; and at time when many people’s finances are under pressure, it’s important to highlight the fact that all Green Flag spaces are free to everyone.”

Environment Minister, Edwin Poots, MLA, who attended the event, commended the good work being done by so many park managers to improve conditions for pollinators, saying;

“It’s very encouraging to see the growing awareness about the importance of pollinators and biodiversity generally within our local communities. The huge interest in my department’s pollinator grants, which were aimed at schools and community groups have undoubtedly helped to spread awareness about this important issue. Parks are where many of our citizens go for outdoor relaxation and exercise and there is huge potential for these spaces to set aside wild areas in which nature can thrive. I commend the work of all of our Green Flag award winners.”

If you are interested in finding out more about the Green Flag Award or other programmes run by Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful (Blue Flag, Eco-Schools, Live Here Love Here) please e-mail us on enquiries@keepnorthernirelandbeautiful.org call us on 028 9073 6920 or visit our website www.keepnorthernirelandbeautiful.org.

We are proud to share the news that we are the first organisation in Northern Ireland to achieve Carbon Literacy Organisation (CLO) Bronze status for the progress that we have made in reducing carbon emissions.

The Carbon Literacy Project awarded Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful the accreditation in recognition of the development and delivery of a range of Carbon Literacy programmes for teachers, youth and community leaders and for successfully guiding the majority of our team across the organisation through their own certified Carbon Literacy training.

Since the final months of 2021, internal sessions have been delivered in modular format by our in-house Climate Action team, and staff have committed to a mandatory carbon-cutting pledge as part of their training. Some notable examples include transitions to vegan and meat-reducing diets, installation of solar panels and solar-charging devices at home, and responsible disposal of hard-to-recycle items through local Terracycle programmes.

Our CEO, Dr Ian Humphreys, commented on the success: “We are a great believer in practising what we preach, and earning Bronze accreditation from The Carbon Literacy Project is an important step in helping Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful get our own house in order. On behalf of the wider organisation, I would like to thank Scott and his entire team for driving us towards this proud award.”

Dave Coleman, Co-Founder and Managing Director of The Carbon Literacy Project added: "We’re delighted to be able to present the first Carbon Literate Organisation award in Northern Ireland to Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful and congratulate them on their achievement. The award recognises their commitment to supporting their staff to become Carbon Literate, maintaining a low carbon culture in the organisation to reduce carbon emissions, and advocating and working to deliver reduced carbon emissions across a range of groups in society, creating a more sustainable economy now, and a better future for tomorrow, for everyone in Northern Ireland and beyond."

Carbon Literate Organisation accreditation is a tiered system, spanning from Bronze and Silver, right through to Gold and Platinum. Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful is already working towards the Silver standard, which will involve embedding Carbon Literacy throughout our organisation performance systems and keeping the public aware of our carbon journey.

GCSE and AS level students in Northern Ireland will be able to gain a brand new qualification in climate change and environmental action from September. The new OCN NI Level 2 Certificate in Reducing Carbon Footprints Through Environmental Action has just been added to the Department of Education list of courses approved for teaching in schools in Northern Ireland (NIEFQAN) and will be awarded by the Open College Network, Northern Ireland (OCN NI).

Students will have the opportunity to follow a selection of project-based modules in ‘Understanding the role of Carbon in Climate Change’, ‘Biodiversity Recovery’, ‘Tackling Single-Use Plastics’, ‘Fast Fashion’ and ‘Climate Campaigning’. The qualification is fully assessed through coursework.

To date almost 30 teachers in Northern Ireland have completed a free Carbon Literacy training course, funded by Department for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA), to enable teachers to support and deliver carbon literacy programmes for students within their schools.

Nicole Sloan, who teaches at Foyle College, has recently had a number of students complete an initial pilot of the Carbon Smart Students carbon literacy course, funded by the Department for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA). She says she is excited about the new OCN NI course and the opportunities it will open up for students to obtain a formally recognised qualification in climate change;

“I think this new opportunity to gain a formal qualification in climate change and carbon literacy is hugely significant. Our school has been an active member of Eco-Schools for a number of years and we’ve seen the benefits that has brought to so many of our students. It has broadened their outlook and enabled them to link and cross-reference other parts of the curriculum as part of a global and green theme, which I think is so important for their futures. Our students found the initial carbon literacy training that they have now completed, enlightening and very empowering. They took their time to really absorb all of the information they were given, discussed it at home and have started to apply changes in their own lives. These changes are to lower their carbon footprint which will make a difference locally and globally, for people now and for generations to come. Knowledge is power and no matter which path a young person intends to follow career-wise, this knowledge is important now.”

Charlene McKeown who manages the Eco-Schools NI programme for Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful said; “We envisage schools taking this new qualification on board as a Key Stage 4 option to complement courses like Geography or Travel and Tourism. The development of this new qualification has been a hugely positive collaboration between a number of organisations with an exciting outcome for young people.”

Martin Flynn, Chief Executive from OCN NI said; We are delighted to have been able to develop this innovative qualification on climate change and environmental action. Working in collaboration with Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful and Action Renewables, we believe that the new qualifications, which will be available to schools and their students from September 2022, will prove to be an extremely popular choice with young people. The younger generation has already demonstrated their growing passion to not only understand the climate change debate but are committed to taking action which will help halt and reverse its effects in the future. Initial feedback from our partners in the schools’ sector is extremely positive and we are looking forward to rolling out the innovative new qualification from September.”

Terry Waugh, CEO of Action Renewables, Eco-Schools’ Climate Action partner, said; “Our funding towards the development of a branded Climate Advocacy resource pack to support the teaching of this new qualification is very exciting and strengthens our charitable objectives in the education of young people.”

Ends.

For additional media information / interviews, please contact Kate Gormley, Communications Manager, Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful, kate.gormley@keepnorthernirelandbeautiful.org / 07469 659948