Wales sets out plans for 100 per cent recycling rate by 2050

The Welsh Government’s new circular economy strategy has set out the nation’s ambitious goal to become “the world leader in recycling.”

A screenshot from the 'Beyond Recycling' consultation document

Published ten years after Wales’ original ‘Towards Zero Waste’ strategy, the government’s new waste strategy, entitled ‘Beyond Recycling’, outlines plans for Wales to become a zero-waste, net-zero emissions nation by 2050, making savings of up to £2 billion for the Welsh economy.

With a household recycling rate of 60.7 per cent – one of the highest in the world – Wales is now looking to build on its current success by achieving a recycling rate of 100 per cent across all sectors.

The ‘Beyond Recycling’ strategy proposes eight key actions to drive Wales towards a circular economy:

  1. Become the world leader in recycling
  2. Phase out single-use plastic
  3. Invest in clean technology for materials collection
  4. Make more efficient use of our food
  5. Prioritise the purchasing of wood, remanufactured and recycled content
  6. Enable communities to take collective action
  7. Create the conditions for businesses to seize the opportunities
  8. Take full responsibility for our waste

Incorporated into the strategy are a number of milestone targets, indicating what progress needs to be made by when in order to achieve the 2050 goals. The Welsh Government has set an interim target of a 70 per cent household, municipal and industrial recycling rate by 2025, alongside a 50 per cent reduction in avoidable food waste by this date and a limit of five per cent waste to landfill.

As part of its aim to phase out single-use plastic, the Welsh Government plans to work with the other governments of the UK to accelerate the introduction of extended producer responsibility (EPR) for packaging and a deposit return scheme (DRS) for drinks containers, with an EPR regime and a ban on highly-littered single-use plastics to be implemented by 2021.

As part of its efforts to reach carbon neutrality by 2050 – a target shared by the UK Government, while the Scottish Government has set a target of 2045 – the Welsh Government’s strategy aims to make the Welsh public sector carbon neutral by 2030 and achieve a 92 per cent reduction in waste sector emissions by the same date.

To achieve the stated aims of the Beyond Recycling strategy, the Welsh Government will prioritise reducing the amount of materials used and waste produced  across all sectors in Wales, supporting communities and businesses to take the lead in promoting reuse and remanufacture, using government mechanisms such as the Landfill Tax to drive this forward.

‘Wales is already leading the way’

Launching the consultation in Llangollen, which has achieved plastic-free status, Deputy Minister for Housing and Local Government Hannah Blythyn said: “Wales is already leading the way in the UK when it comes to recycling, but I want us to go further and take the next step. We’re on a journey towards becoming a circular economy where waste is avoided and resources are kept in use as long as possible.

“Our communities are what make Wales and it was fantastic to launch the consultation in Llangollen. It’s a community that’s come together to reduce plastic, tackle climate change and take advantage of the business opportunities from using reusable and sustainable materials.”

Calling on the public to respond to the consultation, which is open until 3 April 2020, Blythyn said: “It is your engagement and action we need now – you are the recyclers, you are the groups working to improve your communities, you are the businesses finding new uses for materials that were once sent to landfill.

“We want a dialogue, it is your chance to let us know what you think about our proposals and to come up with new ideas and activities. We will be holding events online and in communities across Wales, and there are resources to help you come together and respond.

“I want to hear from as many people and organisations as possible. Our collective responses can make a big difference.”

You can read the ‘Beyond Recycling’ strategy and respond to the consultation on the Welsh Government website.

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