Welsh Government launches recycling consultation

The National Assembly for Wales’ Environment and Sustainability Committee is undertaking an inquiry into recycling in Wales.

Launched 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’, the inquiry will look at current local authority household waste recycling collections for all waste materials, including food and garden waste.

Separate collections vs co-mingled collections

The committee is calling on stakeholders to submit evidence relating to the reasons for the variance in household waste collections (for example, why some councils may wish to collect recycling in a co-mignled fashion, while others collect it separately) as well as to what extent recycling practice ‘aligns with the Welsh Government’s Municipal Waste Sector Plan Collections Blueprint’.

It also seeks to assess the availability of information and guidance to householders about why and how they should be recycling, and to explore potential barriers and enablers to improving recycling rates.

Collection guidance

It comes on the back of new Welsh Government guidance on draft statutory guidance that was launched by the Welsh Minister for Natural Resources and Food, Alun Davies, to ‘support organisations and businesses affected by new EU legal requirements for the separate collection of four waste materials – paper, metal, plastic and glass’. 

According to the UK’s transposition of the EU’s revised Waste Framework Directive (the Waste Regulations (Amendment) 2012), by 2015, every waste collection authority in England and Wales must have in place separate collections for waste paper, metal, plastic and glass when they are necessary to ‘facilitate or improve recovery’ and are ‘technically, environmentally and economically practicable’ (TEEP). 

Despite the UK government’s reticence in issuing guidance on when separate collections are legally necessary, the Welsh Government said it was launching draft guidance on separate recycling collections to ‘offer clarity on the legal requirements for separate collections for local authorities and waste collection providers operating in Wales’.

It warns that the separate collection obligations will be enforced by Natural Resources Wales, ‘through compliance, stop and restoration notices… and ultimately by way of criminal proceedings for breach of such notices’, but adds that the requirement for separate collection does not mean that a separate bin is needed for each material.

The government-funded Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP) also recently launched a non-statutory ‘route map’ for local authorities to help assess compliance with the regulations.

The committee is calling on local authorities to submit their reactions to the recently published Waste Regulations Route Map and the potential impacts and implications of this on recycling practice across Wales.

Submissions to the Welsh Government recycling inquiry should be in written form and sent to [email protected] .The deadline is 10 June.

The committe will then be holding oral evidence sessions during the summer term 2014, and any respondees that are willing provide oral evidence are asked to indicate this in their submission.

Find out more about the consultation and how to submit evidence.