Rhondda Cynon Taf council agrees to issue £100 fines to boost recycling rates

Residents in Welsh local authority Rhondda Cynon Taf (RCT) who mix recyclables in with their residual waste could face a £100 on-the-spot fine, following a vote in favour of a series of measures to increase recycling rates by the council’s cabinet last week (25 Jan).

A report by the RCT County Borough Council revealed that 35,000 tonnes of residual waste ended up in landfill or was processed as energy-from-waste in 2016/17. A WRAP compositional analysis of municipal waste in Wales carried out in 2015 found that over 70 per cent of residual waste in the area is recyclable or compostable.

Several measures to increase recycling rates were agreed at the cabinet meeting, among them the proposal to issue Fixed Penalty Notices of £100 to residents who place recyclable material in their black bin bags if they ignore an initial warning.Rhondda Cynon Taf council agrees to issue £100 fines to boost recycling rates

All councils in Wales have statutory recycling targets set by the Welsh Government, which have helped the country achieve the second highest recycling rate in Europe - when separated from overall UK figures. If RCT fails to achieve a 70 per cent recycling rate by 2024/5, then it could face significant fines for every percentage point below the target rate.

It is the first time a council has voted to adopt fines as a policy to improve recycling rates, with Council Leader Andrew Morgan telling the BBC that such fines would be a “last resort” for the council.

The fines are legal under powers provided for in the 1990 Environmental Protection Act (EPA) and the Clean Neighbourhoods Act, which allow a waste authority to specify the types of waste placed in any containers and to issue penalties.

Residents in the Rhondda area will also have their black bin allowance reduced from four bags to two bags put out for collection a fortnight. Those who live in the Cynon and Taf areas with a bin waste collection will also have stricter limits placed on the overspill of bags, with a ‘no side waste’ policy to be introduced.

The council intends to run an awareness campaign in the months leading up to the changes, which are expected to come into force on 1 April 2018.

Coun Ann Crimmings, RCT County Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Environment and Leisure, told the BBC: “The proposed changes to be considered by us in the coming weeks would not penalise residents who engage with our recycling message, but target those who don’t make the effort.

“The changes would make it clear to residents that they have a choice to make – either recycle to contribute to a greener Rhondda Cynon Taf, or face enforcement action.

“There are very few materials that cannot be recycled, and the council makes it easy for residents with its one-bag-for-all system, excluding food and other contaminants, such as nappies, which have complementary dedicated services.”