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Wales recycling march continues as rate hits 63 per cent

Wales’ recycling rate for the 12 months leading up to December 63 per cent, up four per cent on the figure reported in December 2015, representing another step towards its goal of reaching a recycling, reuse and composting target of 70 per cent by 2025.

Wales recycling march continues as rate hits 63 per cent
Following the previous set of statistics released by the Welsh Government a study, ‘Recycling - who really leads the world?’, carried out by Resource and Eunomia Research & Consulting calculated that were it regarded as a separate country, Wales would have the second best reported recycling rate in Europe behind Germany (66.1 per cent), and hold third place globally behind Germany and Taiwan.

These results, published yesterday (26 May), would see Wales remain in second place Europe-wide, but continue to gain ground on Germany.

Wales has set a relentless pace chasing down the Welsh Government’s statutory target of 70 per cent recycling by 2025, already exceeding the 2016/17 interim target of 58 per cent, and now only one percentage point away from achieving its 2020 target of 64 per cent.

Welcoming the figures, Welsh Environment Secretary Lesley Griffiths said: “This achievement has not been easy, but we have made some significant changes and I would like to thank householders and local authorities for embracing these and making a real commitment to recycling.

“While this success is to be applauded, there are still challenges ahead. Half of all the rubbish collected from the kerbsides of households is easily recyclable material, with a quarter being food waste. It’s important we continue to work together to make sure this material is recycled so we can reduce the impact on the environment and reduce costs for local authorities.”

Wales recycling march continues as rate hits 63 per cent
Percentage of local authority municipal waste prepared for reuse, recycling or composting in Wales (quarterly)

Only Pembrokeshire registers fall in recycling rate

Only one out of the 22 Welsh authorities saw their rolling 12-month average recycling rate fall, with Pembrokeshire falling one percent to 65 per cent down from 66 per cent, and that was replicated for the quarterly figures, with the South Wales authority seeing a drop of three per cent from 66 per cent down to 63 per cent for the October-December 2016 period.

Ceredigion maintained its place at the top of the pile with a reported 70 per cent rolling average recycling rate for the 12 months leading up to December 2016, while it saw a three per cent increase on its results for October-December in 2015, up to 70 per cent for the same period in 2016.

Blaenau Gwent recorded the lowest rate, with 54 per cent recycling for the 12 months leading up to December 2016, although that constituted an increase of two per cent on the year previous, while for the October-December quarter in 2016 the authority registered a seven per cent leap up to 53 per cent for the same period in 2015, building on its introduction of a new kerbside sort recycling system.

Merthyr Tydfil continued its remarkable recovery, registering a sizeable increase of 12 per cent for October-December 2016 up to 63 per cent from 2015, and up to 69 per cent for the rolling average recycling rate for the 12 months leading up to December 2016, up from 66 per cent. Merthyr’s performance has been matched by the Isle of Anglesey and Monmouthshire, both registering increases of twelve and nine per cent respectively compared to the same quarter in 2015.

The top three recycling rates (for the 12 months prior to December 2016) are:

  • Ceredigion – 70 per cent
  • Merthyr Tydfil – 69 per cent
  • Wrexham – 67 per cent

The bottom three recycling rates are:

  • Bridgend – 60 per cent
  • Cardiff – 58 per cent
  • Blaenau Gwent – 54 per cent

With recycling rates continuing to increase to the extent that the Welsh target of 70 per cent is due to be exceeded by 2024/25, the Welsh Government is considering a revised 80 per cent target for recycling.

Ahead of a revised waste strategy due to be published in 2018, former-Environment Minister Carl Sergeant, discussing the possibility in March at the National Assembly for Wales said further initiatives must be used and implemented “to achieve the best overall sustainable development outcomes” and for “Wales to become that best recycling nation in the world”.

Residual waste continues to decrease

Furthermore, the actual amount of waste generated fell during the October-December quarter, with the total amount of local authority municipal waste generated falling to 363,000 tonnes from 369,000 tonnes in the same quarter in 2015, with Caerphilly registering the biggest decrease, reducing generation by 10 per cent. The Vale of Glamorgan and Camarthenshire were the worst performers, increasing their municipal waste generation by 12 and 10 percentage points respectively.

Residual waste generated per person fell to 47 kilograms per person, down from 49 kilograms, across Wales, with Caerphilly, Isle of Anglesey and Conwy registering reductions of 28 per cent, 22 per cent and 18 per cent respectively. Meanwhile, the Vale of Glamorgan increased its residual waste generation per person by 21 points.

The full statistical report can be found on the Welsh Government website.

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