Welsh recycling hits 57 per cent

Provisional data for the first quarter of 2015/16 shows that the average recycling rate in Wales has risen to 57 per cent.

The figure represents the average for the 12 months to the end of June 2015, and compares with 55 per cent for the 12 months to June 2014. The most recent 12-month average, covering the period ending 31 March 2015, recorded a nationwide rate of 56 per cent.

The data for the most recent quarter alone (Q1 – April to June 2015) increased by one percentage point to 59 per cent compared to the same quarter in 2014.

Meanwhile, the amount of local authority (LA) municipal waste continued to decrease, with the total tonnage falling from 422,100 tonnes in Q1 2014 to 412,000 in Q1 2015. Residual household waste generation also fell from 53 kilogrammes (kg) per person to 51 kg per person.

Rolling year rates

As part of its ‘Towards Zero Waste’ strategy, the Welsh Government has set a target of 70 per cent recycling/composting of municipal waste by 2024/25. It has also imposed statutory recycling targets for ‘key years’ leading up to the final date.

Blaenau Gwent, which has since changed its service, is the only LA to have posted a rate under the most recent target of 52 per cent, which was set for 2012/13.

The next target of 58 per cent is set for the end of this year (2015/16). In the provisional data released today, seven of the 22 LAs have already hit or surpassed this mark with their 12-month averages, with another four within two percentage points of the figure.

The highest rates reported by LAs came in Pembrokeshire and Denbighshire (both 64 per cent). This represents a fall of one per cent from the rate Denbighshire posted this time last year, while Pembrokeshire has improved from its June 2014 figure by one per cent. Monmouthshire was one percentage point behind with 63 per cent.

When grouped together, rural LAs recorded the highest recycling rates, an average of 59 per cent, with valley and urban LAs both posting 55 per cent averages.

Quarterly rates

Welsh recycling hits 57 per centRecycling rates tend to peak in the summer months between July and September, when more garden waste is generated and composted. They then drop for the two quarters spanning October to March, before rising again for the quarter reported in today’s data.

Most LAs’ recycling rates were within a percentage point or two of those posted for the first quarter of 2014.

Rhondda Cynon Taf however recorded a recycling rate of 61 per cent for the quarter, an increase of 14 per cent on the rate for April to June 2014. For the 2014 quarter, Rhondda was the worst performing LA, four per cent lower than the second worst.

However, following £952,000 funding from the Welsh Government’s Collaborative Change Programme to improve recycling infrastructure and a partnership with the metal recycling campaign MetalMatters, it has risen to joint-sixth in the recycling tables.

Waste generation

The amount of waste generated during April to June 2015 decreased by two per cent, compared with the same quarter of 2014. However, the 412,000 tonnes generated during April to June 2015 remains slightly higher than the 408,000 tonnes generated during April to June 2012 – the lowest recorded figure for this quarter.

Ceredigion and Caerphilly posted particularly strong waste reductions of 14 and 12 per cent compared to the 2014 quarter respectively. Almost two thirds of the 22 LAs reported reductions, with only two, Newport and Swansea, reporting significant increases. This increase in Newport came despite a five per cent increase in its recycling rate compared to last year.

In terms of residual household waste per person, Cardiff, which in July, the month after this quarter ended, began a new waste service that limits the amount of residual waste householders can put out for collection, posted a 25 per cent drop, falling from 66 kg per person in April to June 2014 to 50 kg per person in the same quarter this year.

Results come from 'ambitious recycling strategy'

Responding to the quarterly results, Welsh Natural Resources Minister Carl Sargeant said: “We have an ambitious and successful recycling strategy and support local authorities to provide a high quality recycling service to householders in Wales. With this support, local authorities provide householders with the most comprehensive recycling service in the UK, which has resulted in Wales becoming the highest recycling nation in the UK.

"I am pleased to see that this success is continuing with local authority municipal waste combined reuse/recycling/composting rate increasing to 57 per cent for the 12 months to the end of June 2015, compared with 55 per cent for the 12 months to the end of June 2014. I would like to congratulate householders and local authorities of Wales for this fantastic achievement, and I thank them for their on-going commitment to recycling more and sending less waste to landfill.”

Full Welsh recycling figures for the first quarter of 2015/16 can be found at the Welsh Government’s website.

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