Resource Use

Swansea to limit black bag waste in April 2014


Swansea Council has approved plans to limit the amount of black bag waste that residents can put out for collection, in a bit to boost recycling.

At a meeting on Tuesday (3 December), the cabinet of Swansea City & County Council ‘straightforwardly approved’ plans to restrict residents to putting out three bags of residual waste a fortnight from April 2014.

Those that do not comply may be penalised with a fine.

However, the council has confirmed that some households would be able to apply for an exemption based on their circumstances, such as the number of people living at the property, or if there are ‘significant difficulties’ preventing participation in the recycling scheme.

Details about exemptions and how people can apply are yet to be released.

Boosting recycling

According to Swansea Council, the plans ‘won’t make much difference’ to residents, as a survey undertaken by the local authority found that ‘nearly three quarters’ (74 per cent) of householders are already putting out two or fewer bags of residual waste for collection. The same survey highlighted 95 per cent of residents recycle ‘some’ of their household waste.

However, the latest Welsh recycling figures showed that Swansea recycled an average of 49 per cent of its waste in the 12 months to June 2013, missing the country’s first statutory recycling rate of 52 per cent.

The Welsh Minister for Natural Resources and Food, Alun Davis, announced last month that he would be waiving punitive fines for the councils that missed the first target (instead 'expecting' those councils to 'participate fully' in the Collaborative Change Programme to help them boost their recycling rates), though Swansea Council did say that if it misses the 58 per cent recycling rate for 2015/16, it could face fines of £200 for every tonne outside of the target (which could be several thousand based on current performance).

It is hoped that the limit will encourage more residents to utilise the existing kerbside recycling services and help lower the amount of black bag waste currently being sent to landfill.

Currently, the council’s kerbside recycling scheme accepts food waste on a weekly basis, and alternates collections of paper, card, glass, cans, and garden waste with plastics and residual waste.

‘Improving the environment and reducing costs’

June Burtonshaw, the council's Cabinet Member for Place, said: "We want to reduce the amount of waste going to landfill by encouraging people to recycle more.

"We have a wide range of popular recycling services available for residents and the latest research shows that almost three quarters of people now put out two or [fewer] black bags.

"We now want to go a step further by encouraging more people to reduce their black bag waste by limiting the amount of black bags that we'll collect.”

Burtonshaw added that the council will be working with residents to ‘introduce these changes over time’.

She concluded: "The result of limiting black bags and increasing recycling will help the council avoid any unnecessary fines, lower waste disposal costs and improve our local environment.

“By reducing the amount of landfill we can improve the environment and reduce the cost of waste disposal for tax-payers.”

Similar schemes have already been introducedin the Welsh counties of Monmouthshire and Carmarthenshire, and have reportedly already led to an increase in the amount of recycling being collected.

Read more about recycling in Swansea.