A new deal which will divert nearly 7,000 tonnes of waste carpets from landfill has been secured by the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) and Ulster Supported Employment and Learning (USEL).

USEL was established in 1962 with the aim of providing supported paid employment for people with disabilities.

This is the seventh prosperity agreement NIEA has now signed, but it is the first with a social enterprise.

David Small, the head of NIEA, said the deal with USEL, which also covers old mattresses and furniture, would result in “an increase in the amount of material they recycle”.

“This agreement is great news for both the environment and the local economy,” he said.

“USEL plans to work with the housing associations and recycle their carpets, diverting nearly 7,000 tonnes of waste carpets from landfill – enough carpet to cover up to 750 football pitches.

“Each agreement embodies a commitment to a sustainable future for the both the business and our environment.”

Last year, BBC News NI reported that as many as 800 mattresses a week, from council recycling centres and bed shops, were being processed at a USEL warehouse off the Shankill Road in Belfast.

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