Wales recycled 54 per cent of waste in 2013

The Welsh Government has released new quarterly municipal waste figures, which show that Wales recycled, reused, or composted 54 per cent of its waste in 2013.

The ‘Local authority municipal waste management: October – December 2013 report, released by the Welsh Government today (22 May), outlines that households and local councils in Wales are recycling ‘more than ever’ and are producing ‘less black bin waste’. Indeed, in the final quarter of 2013, all local authorities in Wales collected two per cent less waste than in the same period the year before.

Specifically, the statistics show that councils reused, recycled, or composted 53 per cent of all municipal waste between October and December 2013, two per cent more than in the same quarter the year before. However, the figures also demonstrated a drop of five per cent on the quarter before (July-September 2013), thought to be partly due to the fact that the winter months see less green waste material collected for composting.

In total, the combined reuse, recycling, and composting rate for local authority municipal waste rose from 52 per cent for the 12 months to the end of December 2012, to 54 per cent for the 12 months to the end of December 2013.

Speaking of the figures, Minister for Natural Resources and Food Alun Davies commented: “These are encouraging results, and I would like to thank councils and householders across Wales for their efforts and their commitment to wasting less and recycling more. The continued increase in recycling rates means that Wales remains on track to meet our ambitious recycling targets.

“It is also great news that the volume of waste collected by local authorities has decreased by two per cent compared to the same period last year, and that on average, the amount of black bin waste that we all produce is decreasing.

“Our recycling rates are the best in the UK and we are reducing the amount of waste we send to landfill. I’m pleased to say that the Welsh approach is working.”

Breakdown of statistics

The local authorities that recycled the most material in the third quarter (Q3) of 2013/14 were Monmouthshire (retaining the title for the second quarter in a row) and Denbighshire County Councils, both topping the league with a rate of 63 per cent.

They were closely followed by Pembrokeshire (62 per cent), and Carmarthenshire councils (59 per cent).  

Monmouthshire and Pembrokeshire councils came top of the league when it came to the biggest year-on-year percentage point increases in their reuse, recycling, and composting rates for the quarter, both experiencing increases of 10 per cent. According to the Welsh Government, these increases may be due to the introduction of a fortnightly residual collection in Pembrokeshire and restrictions on residual waste collections being introduced in Monmouthshire.

Denbighshire County Council performed the best for recycling, reusing and composting waste for the year ending December 2013, with a rate of 62 per cent, followed by Monmouthshire with 61 per cent.

Denbighshire and Carmarthenshire currently operate a fully co-mingled recycling system (although Carmarthenshire does not accept glass) alongside a weekly food waste collection, while Monmouthshire operates a dual-stream recycling collection with one co-mingled bag along with a separate bag for cardboard and paper. Pembrokeshire also runs a dual-stream system with a co-mingled recyclables bag paired with a separate box for glass.( Earlier this week, the Welsh Government launched an inquiry to ‘explore reasons for and impacts of variations in local authority household waste recycling practice’ and to ‘gain a greater understanding of the relationship between recycling collection practices and recycling rates’.)

Despite some co-mingling working for the top performing councils, the worst performing council for Q3 2013/14 (and for the year 2013 as a whole) was the co-mingling council of Methyr Tydfil. It recycled, reused, or composted just 46 per cent of its waste between October and December 2013 and 48 per cent over 2013 as a whole. It is yet to meet the Welsh Government’s 2012 target of recycling 52 per cent of its waste, along with six other councils. The least improved authority in Q3 2013/14 was Powys, which recycled five per cent less than in 2012/13, potentially due to a service change and the fact that leaf litter is no longer included in its composting rate.

The Welsh Government is providing an extra £4 million of investment to Welsh councils this year under its Collaborative Change Programme, which aims to support councils that are failing to meet recycling targets by helping them develop efficient waste collection services.

It 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.

Read the full report for Q3 2013/14 recycling rates.