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Welsh recycling rate starting to flatline

There are signs that Welsh councils’ recycling efforts are hitting a buffer, as latest figures reveal the overall municipal recycling rate of 57% falls short of statutory targets.

Although Wales’ rate is way ahead of England’s, tougher targets imposed by the Welsh Government are putting councils under increasing strain.

Municipal recycling rates in Wales shot up from 44% in 2010 to nearly 55% in 2014. But between September 2014 and September 2015, the overall rate rose two percentage points, from 55% to 57%.

A number of Welsh councils are looking at measures such as decreasing residual collections to four-weekly and introducing smaller bins, in an attempt to avoid being fined for not meeting targets. These include Conwy, Monmouthshire and Cardiff.

Conwy has warned it will not be able to increase its rate without implementing three or four-weekly residual collections.

Welsh councils have been given a 64% recycling target by 2019-20, rising to 70% by 2024-25. They face stiff penalties if targets are missed.

As part of this, a statutory target of 58% for the end of the 2015-16 financial year was set.

A Welsh Government statistics report states that only seven councils had reached the 58% target in the year from September 2014 as a 12-month rolling average.

It lists eight councils with the required rate:

  • Pembrokeshire: 64%
  • Denbighshire: 63%
  • Carmarthenshire: 62%
  • Monmouthshire: 62%
  • Conwy: 59%
  • Rhondda Cynon Taff: 59%
  • Swansea: 58%
  • Vale of Glamorgan: 58%

Earlier this month the Welsh Assembly passed the Environment (Wales) Bill, which will require businesses and public sector waste producers to separate recyclable materials before collection in addition to enforcing the separate collection of recyclates by operators.

It also paves the way for a ban on non-recyclable materials being sent for incineration.

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