Provisional quarterly data indicates 67 per cent recycling rate for Wales

Data from the Welsh Government’s latest Local Authority Municipal Waste Management Statistics suggests that Wales’ recycling rate has risen to 67 per cent between April and June 2019.

An image of a Welsh food recycling caddy

The latest quarterly figures released on Thursday (21 November) show a four per cent rise compared to the same quarter in 2018, suggesting that Wales is on track to reach its ambitious national target of achieving recycling rates of 64 per cent by 2019/20 and 70 per cent by 2024/25. All data is provisional until official figures are published in January 2020.

In 1999, when the Welsh Government was formed and the first multi-sector meetings around responding to the challenges of the EU Landfill Directive took place, Wales was totally dependent on landfill, recycling only three to five per cent of its municipal waste. In 20 years the country has undergone a complete turnaround and now has the highest recycling rate of all the UK nations.

Last month, the Welsh Government published annual statistics showing that between July 2018 and June 2019, 62.8 per cent of waste in Wales was reused, recycled or composted, an increase of just 0.1 per cent after the recycling rate had fallen by 1.1 per cent in 2018

The latest figures, the country’s highest quarterly rate to date, suggest that Wales is set to increase its recycling rate once more in 2019/20, a boost aided by the fall in municipal waste generated: 400,300 tonnes of municipal waste was generated, compared to 430,500 tonnes in April to June 2018.

Certain local authorities have seen significant improvements in recycling, with the recycling rates for the Vale of Glamorgan and Newport increasing by 12.2 per cent and 12.1 per cent respectively compared with the figures from April to June 2018.

This is largely down to service changes – Newport City Council’s recent switch from 180-litre bins to 120-litre bins has helped the city to reduce its residual waste generation and boost its recycling performance.

The Vale of Glamorgan is also in the process of a service change, having switched to fortnightly collections of residual waste last year. In terms of the amount of waste generated, the Vale of Glamorgan has reduced its total waste arisings by 1,600 tonnes, producing 15,600 tonnes compared to 17,200 last quarter.

The Vale of Glamorgan Council also recently implemented a kerbside collection service in the rural Vale, which is set to be rolled out across Barry, Penarth, Dinas Powys, Sully and surrounding areas in 2020.

As well as service changes, there has also been an increase in communications campaigns to drive residents to increase their recycling efforts. The Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) is running a campaign entitled ‘Keeping up with the Joneses’ with Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council and Blaenau Gwent Council Borough Council, which have increased their recycling rates by 4.9 per cent and 5.6 per cent respectively.

EU targets

As stipulated by the EU’s Circular Economy Package (CEP), member states (including the UK) are expected to reach a recycling rate of 55 per cent by 2025, 60 per cent by 2030 and 65 per cent by 2035. Wales looks set to comfortably achieve all of these well ahead of time, however, the UK as a whole remains in danger of missing of the 50 per cent target for 2020, largely due to the poor performance of England.

As part of its ‘Towards Zero Waste’ strategy, the Welsh Government is aiming for Wales to become a zero waste nation by 2050 and it has even been suggested that Wales could set an 80 per cent recycling target for 2035.

You can view the provisional data on the Welsh Government’s website.

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