Sustainability

Wales recycled 52 per cent of waste in 2012

recycling Wales

The Welsh Government has announced that in the twelve months to December 2012, Welsh councils recycled, reused or composted 52 per cent of municipal waste, compared to 49 per cent the year before.

Drawn from the Environment Agency’s WasteDataFlow system, the ‘Local authority municipal waste management, October to December 2012report shows that in the final quarter of 2012, Welsh councils recycled, reused or composted 50 per cent of their waste, a two per cent rise from the same quarter the year before.

Denbighshire recycled the most municipal waste (57 per cent), with Caerphilly and Powys close behind (56 per cent).

Overall, Caerphilly diverted the most amount of waste away from landfill in 2012 (through recycling, reuse or composting), with a yearly rate of 58 per cent. This was contrasted by the valley authority of Neath Port Talbot which had the lowest yearly rate of 44 per cent.

While the results from the best performing counties remained more or less consistent with those from 2011/12, Powys and Conwy achieved the biggest rise in their recycling rates when compared with the same quarter in 2011, with increases of nine and seven percent respectively.

According to the provisional report, the differences in rates are due in part to the different waste and recycling collection services on offer, and people’s willingness to participate in recycling schemes.

Changes to definition of local authority municipal waste

While there has been a general increase in recycling rates in Wales for the year, the figures for October-December highlight a four per cent decrease in recycling rates compared to July- September 2012.

This difference may be due to changes of when waste is counted; previously data was based on the amount of waste collected for reuse, recycling or composting. However in an attempt to get more accurate readings of recyclate levels, this has changed to the amount sent for reuse, recycling or composting processes. 

A reduction in composting rates for valley authorities, with a one per cent decrease, may also be due to ‘unusual weather conditions’ affecting the level of garden waste being composted.

Other figures show that though the amount of municipal waste generated in Wales has been decreasing, it actually increased by two thirds compared to the same period in 2011, this can be accounted for by the change in the definition of local authority municipal waste, which from April 2012 included rubble, incinerator residues, matter from beach cleansing and plasterboard for the first time.

The amount of residual waste per person in Wales also rose between October and December 2012, increasing to 54kg/person from 53kg/ person for the same quarter in 2011.

Towards zero waste

The country’s overarching waste strategy, ‘Towards Zero Waste’, set ambitious targets of recycling 52 percent of Wales’s waste by 2012/13 and 70 percent by 2024/25. The latest figures show that over half of Welsh local authorities (13 of 22) met or surpassed Wales’s first statutory target.

Minister for Natural Resources, Alun Davies, said: “I am delighted that 13 of Wales’s local authorities have met or surpassed our first statutory recycling target three months early.

“Our targets are very ambitious and so this is no mean feat. I am grateful to councils across Wales for the hard work they have put in to improving their collection services which have driven up recycling rates.

“It is also thanks to the efforts of the people of Wales who are far more aware of the environmental impact of their rubbish than ever before and are thinking twice before throwing everything into a black bag. However, we still have some way to go if we are to continue to achieve our ambitious recycling targets and I encourage everyone to spend a few extra minutes each week to separate out and recycle their rubbish.”

Read the ‘Local authority municipal waste management, October to December 2012report.