Wales recycled 54 per cent in the beginning of 2014

Recycling, reuse and composting rates in Wales continue to hold at 54 per cent, with new figures showing that local authorities recycled, reused or composted the same amount of waste in the first three months of 2014 as they did the quarter before.

The findings come in the Welsh Government’s provisional quarterly municipal waste figures ‘The Local Authority Municipal Waste Management: January – March 2014’, which show that between January and March 2014 (the fourth quarter of 2013/14), local authorities in Wales recycled, reused or composted 54 per cent of municipal waste, three per cent more waste than in the same period the year before.

This is despite authorities sending five per cent more waste for recycling/reuse/composting in this quarter compared to the year before. This has been attributed to ‘a relatively mild winter compared to the previous year when some vehicle rounds were cancelled due to the weather’.

Breakdown of statistics

During the 12-month period leading up to March 2014, Denbighshire and Monmouthshire councils had the highest recycling rates at 63 per cent. Pembrokeshire came in second at 60 per cent, followed by Caerphilly and Ceredigion councils at 58 per cent. 

However, Ceredigion County Council had the largest percentage increase in its recycling, reuse and composting rates compared with the same quarter in 2013 – rising by 12 per cent to a rate of 65 per cent (50 per cent of which was through reuse/recycling). This is thought to be due to the local authority entering new contracts and the start of treatment of road sweeping waste for recovery.

Large increases (of nine per cent) were also recorded in Monmouthshire and Neath Port Talbot councils, both of which have reduced their residual collections to once every two weeks.

On the opposite end of the scale, Merthyr Tydfil was the worst performing local authority at 48 per cent.

All of these councils operate co-mingled recycling services (with Pembrokeshire and Ceredigion collecting dry recyclables excluding glass), except for Monmouthshire, which operates a twin-stream system.

For the period January to March 2014, six local authorities (the Isle of Anglesey, Powys; Cardiff; Rhondda Cynon Taf; Merthyr Tydfil; and Torfaen), missed the 2012-2013 target of 52 per cent recycling during January to March 2014.

However, provisional figures estimate that just four will miss the target by the end of the year 2013/14. It is yet to be seen if these councils will have to pay penalties for missing the target (£200 for every tonne of waste under the target) but the Welsh Government is providing an extra £4 million of investment to Welsh councils this year to support councils that are failing to meet recycling targets by helping them develop efficient waste collection services.

Wales is so far the only UK nation to have broken the 50 per cent recycling mark, reaching its first statutory recycling target of 52 per cent in 2012/13. The Welsh Government is now aiming for all authorities to recycle 58 per cent of waste by 2015/16, rising to 70 per cent by 2025, as part of its ‘Towards Zero Waste’ strategy.

‘Good progress’ towards 58 per cent recycling by 2016

Speaking about the figures, John Griffiths, Minister for Natural Resources, Culture and Sport, said: “It’s great to see that Welsh households and local authorities are continuing to increase the amount they recycle and reuse. I want to congratulate them for their efforts.

“We continue to lead the way in the UK for reuse, recycling and composting, and we are making good progress towards our target of 58 per cent recycling by 2016 and 70 per cent recycling by 2025.”

Griffiths added: “There is much more to do, but we will continue to support Welsh councils to meet their recycling targets and to develop the most effective waste collection services through the Collaborative Change Programme. This programme will provide an extra £4 million of investment to Welsh councils this year.

“In addition, every Welsh council offers a food waste recycling collection service, which is contributing to our high recycling rates.”

Read the full report for January to March 2014