Resource Use

Recycling in Wales has ‘out of this world’ potential to address climate change

The potential CO2 savings from recycling in Wales are ‘out of this world’ according to a Welsh Government report, which found the savings would be enough to power 1,200 journeys to the moon by car.

‘Climate Change Impacts of Recycling Services in Wales’, published to mark the start of Recycle Week, which began on Monday (12 September), was produced by WRAP Cymru on behalf of the Welsh Government. It compares the current climate change benefits from recycling in Wales to what could be seen if all local authorities adopt the preferred kerbside collection method as detailed in the Collections Blueprint and meet the 70 per cent recycling target.

The report concludes this would result in an additional annual saving of nearly 86,000 tonnes CO2 equivalent, or the same amount of CO2 produced by a car travelling for 290 million miles, which would take you to the moon 1,200 times.

It also suggests recycling just 20 per cent more waste would result in a 47 per cent increase in climate change benefits.

The news comes as Eunomia releases an updated Local Authority Recycling Carbon Index, published in the current issue of Resource magazine, which shows that Wales is already leading the way on CO2 savings connected with recycling. Indeed, comparing Wales, England and Northern Ireland’s performance, Eunomia’s latest Carbon Index (for 2014/15) found Wales in the lead, with over 258,000 tonnes of CO2 savings a year with a population of roughly 3 million (roughly .09 tonnes per person), compared to 123,000 tonnes in Northern Ireland with a population of 1.8 million (roughly .07 tonnes per person) and 3.5 million tonnes for England with a population around 53 million (again, roughly .07 tonnes per person).

Wales ‘continuing to lead the way’

Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Rural Affairs, Lesley GriffithsWelcoming the findings of the report, the Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths (pictured), said: “Wales continues to lead the way in the UK with its recycling rates, and this is testament to the hard work of the people who take the time to recycle and to local authorities who continue to make great strides in meeting our ambitious targets.

“This report demonstrates why it is so important to do this and to continually strive to improve our recycling rates. We’ve set legally binding targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80 per cent by 2050 and the carbon benefits of recycling can play a significant part in achieving this aim.

“Of course, there is still more to be done. [Recycle] Week is an excellent opportunity to highlight what more can be done and we are aiming to raise awareness of all those other items all over the house people forget about when recycling which can reduce the waste being sent to landfill even further. Today’s report also backs our Collections Blueprint as the basis for a waste collection standard for Wales which I would like to see widespread adoption of, resulting in even more CO2 savings and a greener future for Wales.”

The full report can be downloaded from the WRAP Cymru website.