Wales exceeds 64 per cent recycling target for 2019/20

The recycling rate for Wales has reached a record high of 65.1 per cent, according to the Welsh Government’s latest Local Authority Municipal Waste Management Statistics, released yesterday (26 November).

The figures show an increase of 2.3 per cent in the amount of local authority municipal waste (including both household and non-household waste) that was reused, recycled or composted, rising from 62.8 per cent in 2018/19 to 65.1 per cent in 2019/20.

Kerbside recycling collection in WalesWales, which remains in first position for recycling rates among the UK nations, has set high targets for local authorities – the country’s ‘Towards Zero Waste’ strategy calls for councils to achieve recycling rates of 64 per cent by 2019/20 and 70 per cent by 2024/25. This year’s figures exceed the 64 per cent target.

Of the 22 Welsh local authorities (LAs), 18 have exceeded the target set in the Government’s waste strategy. Three LAs (Pembrokeshire, Ceredigion and Vale of Glamorgan) have already achieved the next target of 70 per cent recycling set for 2025.

In terms of total waste generated, the figures show 1.51 million tonnes of waste was generated within LAs in Wales in 2019-20 – a decrease of almost 2.0 per cent since last year. Almost 1 million tonnes (984,935 tonnes) of this was recycled, re-used or composted.

One-third (33 per cent) of material collected in 2019/20 was organic, while co-mingled materials – unsorted paper, metal, plastic and glass – accounted for 18 per cent of all waste, down from 21 per cent in 2018/19.

Since becoming a devolved nation, Wales has invested £1 billion in household recycling. In 2019/20, household recycling increased from 60.7 per cent in 2018/19 to 62.9 per cent, while non-household municipal recycling rose by 3.7 per cent to 78.9 per cent.

The top three local authorities for recycling are:

  • Pembrokeshire – 71.1 per cent
  • Ceredigion – 71.6 per cent
  • Vale of Glamorgan – 70.3 per cent

The three councils with the lowest recycling rates are:

  • Caerphilly – 62.5 per cent
  • Neath Port Talbot – 61.7 per cent
  • Cardiff – 58.1 per cent

Environment Minister Lesley Griffiths said: “For Wales as a whole to exceed the target in the first year is testament to the considerable effort everyone has put in. We could not have achieved a record year for recycling in Wales without the hard work of our local authorities and households across Wales and I’d like to particularly congratulate those authorities who have exceeded the next target five years early.

“Wales is already a recycling nation and we are rightly proud of our achievements.  These figures not only show that we are on track in meeting our goal of zero waste by 2050, but also show the progress being made towards a circular, low carbon economy.”

Cllr Andrew Morgan, Leader of the Welsh Local Government Association, commented: "The fact that Wales has hit its recycling targets is fantastic news. It is thanks to all the hard work of front line staff who we have relied on to keep services going during this difficult period, and to communities across Wales who have committed to reducing our impact upon the environment.

"Local Authorities have worked  closely in partnership with Welsh Government to achieve this. However, we know that recycling is not an end in itself. That partnership extends to developing the circular economy, making re-use and repair a greater part of everybody’s lives, and to help the Welsh economy become more resilient. Priorities which are even more important given challenges we face."