Anglesey leads the way for Welsh recycling at 72 per cent

Isle of Anglesey Council has reached a recycling rate of 72 per cent, the highest in Wales, while the country as a whole reported a decrease in recycling for the first time, according to new data released today (17 October).

The latest Local Authority Municipal Waste Management Statistics for Wales show a decrease of 1.1 per cent in the amount of municipal waste (household and non-household waste) that was reused, recycled or composted compared to the previous year, from 63.8 per cent in 2016/17 to 62.7 per cent in 2017/18.

Non-household waste recycling dropped by 5.3 per cent, to 72.8 per cent, while household recycling decreased to 61 per cent, a drop of 0.5 per cent on the previous year.

Wales recycling rate drops for the first time
The percentage of local authority municipal waste that was reused, recycled or composted year by year

In total, 17 of the 22 Welsh local authorities have reported a lower municipal waste recycling rate than the previous year. These decreases are partly put down to an improvement in the quality of reporting, particularly the reporting of wood recycling, as all local authorities in Wales are now properly accounting for the wood rejected from sorting facilities rather than reporting this material as being recycled. Less incinerator bottom ash (the materials left over after the waste incineration process) was also reported as being recycled, something that is attributed to more waste going to landfill than incineration.

In addition, the total amount of municipal waste generated dropped by 2.5 per cent (40,111 tonnes) to 1.55 million tonnes; this is the second lowest amount of waste generated in Wales since 2000/2001.

The country still remains well ahead of its goal, as set out in its current waste strategy ‘Towards Zero Waste’, to recycle 58 per cent of its waste by 2016/17. At 62.7 per cent, Wales is also still the strongest recycling nation in the UK.

Read more: Wales - leading the recycling world?

Environment Minister Hannah Blythyn expressed her disappointment in the decrease, but commented: “Our recycling rate of nearly 63 per cent is still well above our national target of 58 per cent for this year. There is also good news, with a second Welsh local authority breaking the 70 per cent barrier for the first time.”

Results by local authority

Wales recycling rate drops for the first time
Kerbside collection bins in Conwy
Only one Welsh council reached over 70 per cent recycling in 2017/18, which was the Isle of Anglesey, reporting that 72.2 per cent of its municipal waste was sent for reuse, recycling or composting this year, compared to 65.8 per cent in 2017/18. Previously, Ceredigion had also reached 70 per cent, but this council experienced a significant drop of six per cent to 64 per cent in the most recent figures, surpassed only by Pembrokeshire, which dropped by 8.3 per cent to 57 per cent.

Overall, Blaenau Gwent remains at the bottom, with a recycling rate of 56 per cent, a one percent drop on the previous year’s results. In contrast, Bridgend reported the highest increase in its recycling rate, rising a remarkable 10.7 per cent to 68.6 per cent, something attributed to the implementation of a new kerbside collection scheme with limited residual waste collections. This has pulled Bridgend into second place in Wales, moving from one of the lowest performing authorities to one of the highest.

The top three local authorities for recycling are:

  • Isle of Anglesey - 72 per cent
  • Bridgend - 69 per cent
  • Flintshire - 68 per cent

The bottom three recycling rates are:

  • Cardiff - 58 per cent
  • Pembrokeshire - 57 per cent
  • Blaenau Gwent - 56 per cent

Notably, the councils at the top of the league table are all subscribed to the Welsh Collections Blueprint, which sets out a preferred system for recycling collections for all Welsh local authorities. Though it is not compulsory, Welsh councils are encouraged to adopt the model system, which consists of a kerbside sort system, with weekly separate collections of dry recyclables and food waste, and fortnightly collections of residual waste.

More detailed information about each local authority’s recycling rate for different materials, as well as the end destinations for their waste, can be found on the new Welsh Government-funded website, My Recycling Wales. Launched today by WRAP Cymru, the site is a resource for anyone wanting to find out what happens to their waste and recycling in Wales.

Blythyn said: “We are incredibly proud of our recycling performance in Wales. We’ve achieved this through policies made in Wales, with legally-binding recycling targets for councils, investment in infrastructure and public information campaigns. I will make an oral statement to the National Assembly next week announcing additional measures to further improve recycling rates in Wales.

“Wales remains first in the UK, second in Europe and third in the world for household waste recycling. My focus remains on making Wales the top recycling nation in the world.”

The full report into the Welsh Local Authority Municipal Waste Management Statistics can be read on the Welsh Government website.

Related Articles