Wales hits 58 per cent recycling rate

Households and local councils in Wales are recycling more than ever, according to the latest official figures.

Wales hits 58 per cent recycling rate

The ‘Local authority municipal waste management, July – September 2014’ report, released by the Welsh Government today (19 February), presents provisional statistics that show that the rate of local authority (LA) municipal waste prepared for recycling, reuse and composting for the period reached 58 per cent. 

Although recycling numbers tend to peak during this period every year (due to higher levels of garden waste generated during the summer months, leading to more green waste being composted), the figures show that composting rates remained at 22 per cent, while recycling and reuse rates increased by one point to 36 per cent.

The combined reuse/recycling/composting figure of 58 per cent marks the highest rate ever achieved for the county in this quarter and is a one per cent increase on the corresponding period in 2013.

The amount of residual household waste generated per person also fell in this period, down one kilogramme (kg) from 2013’s figure of 52kgs.

Local authority breakdown

Fourteen of the 22 LAs saw a decrease on their previous number, with the largest drops reported in the Vale of Glamorgan (22 per cent) and Ceredigion (20 per cent).

Indeed, when comparing rates in July to September 2014 with the same quarter in 2013, it can be seen that Ceredigion had the biggest increase (seven per cent) in its reuse/recycling/composting rate, closely followed by Pembrokeshire and Neath Port Talbot (six per cent increases for both).

This has been partly attributed to the fact that Pembrokeshire changed its kerbside residual waste collections from weekly to fortnightly in October 2013, and Ceredigion County Council entered into new waste contracts.

Although rural and valley authorities reported decreases in per capita waste generation, it increased in urban authorities, with Cardiff’s numbers rising by a substantial 24 per cent. 

A City of Cardiff Council spokesperson told Resource: "Increases in all waste in urban areas can grow with increasing population as is the case for Cardiff, in addition a significant factor within Cardiff has been the introduction of a commercial recycling and waste centre to support small business in and around the city.

“These tonnages have added to the stats for municipal waste for 2014, however when breaking down the total municipal waste streams into the kerbside household collected wastes and cleansing and litter bins etc, then the residual waste has remained fairly static in trends from the previous year."

Figures for 12 months ending September 2014

The combined reuse/recycling/composting rate of local authority municipal waste increased to 55 per cent for the 12 months to the end of September 2014, based on provisional data, compared to 53 per cent for the 12 months to the end of September 2013.

The LA with the highest rate of rate of reuse, recycling and composting in the 12 months to the end of September 2014 was once again Denbighshire, which came in at 66 per cent. This marks a six per cent increase on the area’s annual rate recorded in September 2013.

Monmouthshire County Council (65 per cent) recorded the second best percentage, with Pembrokeshire County Council (64 per cent) in third.

Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough had the lowest rate at 48 per cent – a fall of two per cent from the September 2013 numbers. A spokesperson from Rhondda Cynon Taf Council told Resource in November that issues with the company that used to process residual waste had led to it being sent directly to landfill. The council expected this issue to be resolved by August 2014. (The council was previously awarded funding of £952,000 from the Welsh Government’s £11.5 million Collaborative Change Programme in March 2014 to invest in local recycling infrastructure in response to their low recycling rates.)

When grouped together, rural authorities had the highest average recycling rate over the 12 months up to September 2014 at 59 per cent. Valley and urban authorities had rates of 54 and 53 per cent respectively.

Leading the UK

Minister for Natural Resources Carl Sargeant commented: “I want to thank households and councils in Wales for their continued efforts and commitment to recycling.

“Welsh households are taking advantage of weekly food waste collections and campaigns such as Love Food, Hate Waste and are helping people to waste less and save money on food shopping.

"The decrease in black bin waste is particularly pleasing, with Wales continuing to lead the UK in terms of recycling and moving towards a zero waste future.” (Statistics for the period July – September 2014 in England have yet to be published, but the most recent figures reveal that England recycled almost 10 per cent less than Wales - 48.5 per cent of household waste - in the first quarter of 2014/15 (April-June 2014).

Despite the positive figures, Sargeant warned against complacency, adding: “Whilst our waste strategy is baring fruit, it is clear that certain councils are performing better than others. There should be no excuses, we should all strive to do more and continue to improve in order to build on our recent recycling success and ensure Wales continues to rank among the best in Europe in terms of recycling.”

Read the full ‘Local authority municipal waste management, July – September 2014’ statistics.

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