Pembrokeshire announces switch to kerbside sort with Elvis parody

On Friday (20 September) Pembrokeshire County Council released a musical parody of Elvis’s ‘The Wonder of You’ on YouTube to promote its switch from a co-mingled to a multi-stream kerbside sort waste collection system.

On 4 November, Pembrokeshire County Council will roll out its new system, whereby householders will separate their dry recycling into multiple separate containers to be collected weekly by recycling operators.

Pembrokeshire’s new system will involve a combination of both boxes and sacks, with a blue reusable sack for cardboard, a red reusable sack for plastic packaging, cartons and metal cans, a separate green box for glass with a separate blue box for paper and a green caddy for food waste. The council will also be switching from a fortnightly to a three-weekly residual waste collection.

The council has also introduced a free fortnightly absorbent hygiene product collection recycling scheme to collect nappies and sanitary products from households.

The new system will replace the current co-mingled system, which sees paper, cardboard, metal packaging and plastic bottles collected weekly in an orange bag, with a weekly food waste collection and a fortnightly glass collection.

Pembrokeshire County Council estimates that the new service, along with its fortnightly subscription-based garden waste collection service will result in 75 per cent of all household waste being collected on a weekly or fortnightly basis. The collected materials will be bulked at a council depot before being sent to recycling processors, which will ideally be within Wales and the UK, depending on the state of the markets.

Sarah Edwards, Strategic Project Manager at Pembrokeshire County Council, said: “One of the main motivations was to meet the statutory recycling targets set by the Welsh Government, which is 64 per cent this year and rising to 70 per cent in 2014-25. If these targets are not met then the authority could face significant fines.

“We also needed to increase the range of recycling which households of Pembrokeshire are able to recycle. The service change will encourage people to recycle as much as possible and only use their residual (non-recyclable) bags for things that cannot be recycled. We want to encourage residents to recycle more and help increase the amount we recycle across the county.

“Our final motivation was from a financial perspective and to meet the targets in the most effective and efficient way due to decreasing budgets. Our new kerbside service will save money, which will help support and protect other council services.

“These changes come at a time when, for Pembrokeshire, Wales, and the planet, we are starting to see significant changes in attitudes and practices where recycling is concerned. We take our role as custodians of our local and national environment seriously, and these changes are an improvement on what we as a council and our residents can achieve.”

Engaging with residents

In terms of the council’s communications strategy, Jon Bell, PR and Communications Coordinator at Pembrokeshire County Council, explained that a breadth of people across different departments got involved: “We’ve been a really collaborative communications team, and have really benefited from our multi-department set up. We’ve really tried to place ourselves in the residents’ shoes in terms of the content and also the regularity of the communications.”

The council has certainly tried to do something different with its promotion video for the service change, which features the recycling team singing a parody of Elvis’s ‘The Wonder of You’, and has now reached nearly 10,000 views on YouTube.

“Our social media engagement has been phenomenal,” Bell said, explaining that his colleague Mark Bond, the Pembrokeshire Eco-Champion Coordinator, was responsible for the idea. “Mark wrote the song and worked really closely with the waste guys to get them involved in this.

He added: “This is something we’re really proud of. We knew that the switch to kerbside sort was something we had to do as part of the Welsh Government’s target, so this is something that we’ve been able to make our own through our communications strategy.”

Targeting higher recycling

Pembrokeshire’s new collection service will bring it in line with the preferred system set out by the Welsh Government’s Collections Blueprint. 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.

It is hoped that the change will see Pembrokeshire get back on an upward curve with its recycling, after its recycling rate fell from 65 per cent to 57 per cent in 2017/18. All Welsh councils have a statutory recycling target of 70 per cent to achieve by 2024/25 as laid out in the Welsh Government’s waste strategy, ‘Towards Zero Waste’.

The Vale of Glamorgan, will also be switching to a kerbside sort collection system with the council set to roll out the new service across the authority over the next year. Residents of Rural Vale will receive four new containers for card, paper, glass, and plastic and cans from 14 October 2019, Barry will follow in spring 2020, and then residents of Penarth, Sully and the surrounding areas will receive their new separate waste containers in summer 2020.

More information on Pembrokeshire’s new collection scheme, which will be implemented from 4 November 2019, can be found on the council’s website and its Elvis-themed video, starring members of the council’s recycling collection team, can be found on YouTube.