Welsh recycling rates reach record high of 65.4 per cent

In its latest Local Authority Municipal Waste Management report, the Welsh Government has announced that its national recycling rate has reached a new record high of 65.4 per cent, building on the 2019/20 record of 65.1 per cent.

Kerbside recycling in WalesOut of 22 local authorities, 18 exceeded the statutory minimum target of 64 per cent, with 13 reporting an increase in performance on the previous year. In four regions – Pembrokeshire, Ceredigion, Conwy, and Vale of Glamorgan – the next statutory minimum target of 70 per cent by 2024/25 was achieved.

The top three local authorities for reuse/recycling/composting rates are:

  • Pembrokeshire
  • Vale of Glamorgan
  • Conwy

The bottom three local authorities for reuse/recycling/composting rates are:

  • Torfaen
  • Caerphilly
  • Cardiff

The total waste generated by local authorities fell by 40,000 tonnes, the figure decreasing from its 2019/20 figure of 1.51 million tonnes to 1.47 million tonnes in 2020/21. The Welsh Government has attributed the overall reduction in waste to the limiting of business operations during the pandemic, including the closure of hospitality venues and offices, with this effect further reflected in the increase in household waste figures. An increase of 1.4 per cent can be observed in the latest statistics, rising from 62.9 per cent in 2019/2020 to 64.3 per cent in 2020/21.

Material distribution is very similar to that of the previous year, with only minor changes for some materials. According to the report, organic materials comprised a third of all material collected for reuse/recycling/composting (35 per cent), with co-mingled materials accounting for 18 per cent, and ‘metal or other’ accounting for 7 per cent.

Landfill rates dropped to less than five per cent between April 2020 and March 2021. This continues the significant downward trend observed over the last decade, with landfill rates falling from a much higher 42.1 per cent in 2012/13.

Since the devolved administration was established in 1997, the Welsh Government has invested £1 billion in household recycling, helping to push its rates from 4.8 per cent in 1998/1999 to over 65 per cent in 2020/21. According to the latest study by Eunomia, conducted in 2017, Wales is ranked third on the global recycling leaderboard, behind Germany and Taiwan.

Commenting on the latest data, Julie James, Welsh Minister for Climate Change, said: “Our recycling stats are world-class, thanks to a Team Wales effort. They show what we can achieve when government, business and the third sector work together towards a common goal.

“They also show that while investment and partnership working have been key ingredients of this success, ultimately this achievement has been down to people recycling at home in every part of Wales. Our move to a circular economy is good for helping our homegrown businesses flourish, while helping us decarbonise, reduce waste and support our recovery from the pandemic.

“As well as already having made a significant difference to our emissions, our excellent recycling track record is a fantastic platform for us to build on in tackling the climate and nature emergencies, so we can pass on a resilient, green and prosperous Wales to our future generations.”