Resource Use

Wales’ recycling rate unchanged from last year

Wales’ recycling rate has remained relatively stable over the past year, according to the Welsh Government’s latest Local Authority Municipal Waste Management Statistics, released today (17 October).

An image of Senedd, the Welsh National Assembly building

The figures show an increase of 0.1 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 62.7 per cent in 2017/18 to 62.8 per cent in 2018/19.

Household recycling decreased from 61 per cent in 2017/18 to 60.7 per cent in 2018/19, whilst non-household recycling rose by 2.3 per cent to 75.2 per cent.

In terms of waste generated, the total amount of local authority municipal waste collected has decreased gradually since the early 2000s. The 2018/19 figures are the lowest to date, with the total waste generated dropping from 1.55 million tonnes in 2017/18 to 1.54 million tonnes in 2018/19.

Almost a third of material collected in 2018/19 was organic, whilst co-mingled materials – unsorted paper, metal, plastic and glass – accounted for 21 per cent of all waste.

Last year’s figures had reported a decrease in Wales’ recycling rate, partly due to data reporting improvements, with the 2017/18 statistics showing a decrease of 1.1 per cent in the amount of municipal waste reused, recycled or composted compared to 2016/17.

This year, 12 of the 22 local authorities reported an increase in their recycling rate, with the Isle of Anglesey once again coming out on top with a recycling rate of 69.9 per cent, followed by Bridgend and Flintshire. Newport and Carmarthenshire are the joint worst-performing authorities with a 58.9 per cent recycling rate.

Pembrokeshire has reported a five per cent rise in its recycling – the greatest increase in Wales – from 57.0 per cent in 2017/18 to 62.0 per cent in 2018/19.

Pembrokeshire County Council has recently made the switch to a kerbside sort recycling system, adopting the model set out by the Welsh Collections Blueprint. Although the Blueprint model is not compulsory, it proposes a series of recommendations to maximise recycling, including a kerbside sort system, weekly separate collections of dry recyclables and food waste, and fortnightly collections of residual waste.

The top three local authorities for recycling are:

Isle of Anglesey – 69.9 per cent
Bridgend – 69.4 per cent
Flintshire – 68.7 per cent

The bottom three recycling rates are:

Cardiff – 59.2 per cent
Newport – 58.9 per cent
Carmarthenshire – 58.9 per cent

Wales, which has the highest recycling rate of all 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.

Commenting on the figures, Deputy Minister for Housing and Local Government Hannah Blythyn said: “I welcome the latest Local Authority Municipal Waste Management Statistics. Every single local authority in Wales has met the 58 per cent recycling target. This shows that irrespective of demographics, rurality and other factors every area of Wales is making a contribution to a high recycling society with all the associated benefits.

“Several Local Authorities have made major service changes and I look forward to seeing the data for 2019-20, when I expect to see Wales resume the upward trend on recycling. The Welsh Government is also investing in new infrastructure and supporting people and businesses to take the opportunities to fully reap the rewards of a high recycling society.

“Later this year the Welsh Government will launch a consultation on a successor strategy to Towards Zero Waste. This new strategy will drive progress against our goal of a becoming a world leader in recycling and avoiding waste in the first place by keeping resources in use for as long as possible.”

You can read the full report into the Welsh Local Authority Municipal Waste Management Statistics on the Welsh Government website