Swansea waste limit sees arisings drop by 25 per cent

Swansea City & County Council has announced that its residual waste arisings have fallen by 25 per cent in the last 12 months, following the introduction of a three-bag limit to its fortnightly waste collections.

According to new council figures, since implementing the three-bag residual waste limit campaign, ‘Keep it to 3’, in April 2014, the amount of waste collected from residents on a fortnightly basis has fallen by 7,960 tonnes to 22,770 tonnes.

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Keep it to 3 details

The ‘Keep it to 3’ scheme was launched last year in the hopes of boosting recycling and reducing the amount of waste sent to landfill, as the council reportedly spends around £4 million a year on landfilling. Moreover, it recycled an average of 49 per cent of its waste in the 12 months to June 2013, missing the country’s first statutory recycling rate of 52 per cent. It will have to reach 58 per cent recycling by 2016 to meet the next statutory target and avoid potentially having to pay a £200 fine for every tonne of waste under the target.

The system operates on the council’s alternate weekly waste system, which sees non-recyclables and plastics collected one week, and co-mingled recyclables (excluding plastics) collected the next. Weekly food waste collections are also in operation.

Residents that go over the three-bag limit do not have their extra bags collected, and are sent a warning letter along with further information on how to recycle properly.

Should residents continue to place more than three black bags out on collection days, and ignore written warnings, they could face enforcement action, such as fines.

However, some households can apply for an exemption to the scheme – if there are a large number of people living at the property, for example, or if there are young children (and large amounts of nappy waste).

The councils has stated that since the implementation of the scheme, there has not only been a drop in residual waste arisings, but also an increase in recycling (although figures for this stream have not been revealed).

‘Making better use of our kerbside recycling services’

Councillor Mark Thomas, Cabinet Member for Environment & Transportation, commented: “The changes we made to collections including the introduction of a limit have been a real success so far. We have significantly reduced the amount of waste we send to landfill.

“The aim has always been to encourage residents to make better use of our kerbside recycling services so that we can dispose of household waste in a better way than simply burying it in the ground.

“I'm delighted that the changes have had a positive impact and that the residents have worked so hard with us to achieve the increase in recycling.”

Plastics recycling trial

To further increase recycling rates, the council also recently launched a trial of collecting plastic recycling in two reusable pink sacks instead of disposable pink bags.

Swansea pink sack trial

The trial, was rolled out to 3,200 homes in parts of St Thomas, Bonymaen, Pentrechwyth, Pontlliw and Pontarddulais earlier this month, and sees the content of the sacks collected on a fortnightly basis, as usual.

It is hoped that by switching from using bags to sacks, there will be:

  • more plastics collected (as the sacks hold double the capacity of the pink bags);
  • fewer bags ‘blowing around streets during windy conditions’; and
  • greater uptake in recycling, as householders will not have to buy disposable bags.

The council has said that if the trial proves successful, it could be rolled out across the city ‘to improve the ability to process the plastics collected and help the council save on annual costs for buying disposable bags’.

Find out more about the Keep it to 3 system or the pink sack trial.

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