BEHIND THE HEADLINES: Recycling fears push councils to their limits

South Wales Argus: A bin lorry collection round through the streets of Newport (2905302) A bin lorry collection round through the streets of Newport (2905302)

LOCAL authorities across Gwent are looking at very different ways of reducing their landfill waste, including the potential for monthly bin collections, as JOHN PHILLIPS reports.

PLANS to reduce rubbish collections to just once a month in parts of Gwent have raised a few eyebrows in the last few weeks.

The days when binmen came to pick up your rubbish the same day each week could soon be over as the Welsh Government puts pressure on council chiefs to increase recycling.

Faced with huge non-compliance fines that could reach hundreds of thousands of pounds, local authorities are having to devise new ways to meet ever increasing recycling targets.

By the end of the next financial year for instance, councils in Wales will have to show they recycle nearly six in 10 waste items.

Many households are taking steps to promote the environment of course, but at the same time there is no actual incentive for people to recycle.

Earlier this year, Torfaen council bosses unveiled drastic proposals to meet the Government’s recycling targets and avoid hefty fines.

By cutting household waste collections from twice to just once a month, they argue that people will be encouraged to take part in recycling initiatives. Instead of putting every type of waste in their bin, they will get used to separating their rubbish, ready for specific collections for items such as garden waste, cardboard, plastics and glass.

Last week, Torfaen council pointed out that it currently met the 52 per cent recycling target set by the Welsh Government.

But the local authority stressed it could face fines of £100,000 for every per cent falling below these targets.

If the borough does not manage to reach the forthcoming 58 per cent target for 15/16, it could be left with a £600,000 fine.

As the local authority prepared to unveil its consultation, Councillor John Cunningham, the executive member for neighbourhood services, said: “Although we have introduced collections for green waste, food and cardboard, recycling rates have only risen by around nine per cent in the last five years. This is not enough.”

The local authority said it was continuing to prepare for a public consultation on the issue with three distinct options: maintaining a fortnightly collection with a smaller black wheelie bin, a fortnightly collection of two refuse bags per household, or moving to a monthly collection using the existing 240L black wheelie bins.

One resident from Abersychan, Elizabeth Brown, argued households could not cope with the reduced service and labelled the proposals “ridiculous”, while Ian Gilbert, from Pontypool, indicated it could lead to an increase in fly-tipping.

Torfaen council also stressed it was not alone among Welsh local authorities reviewing their residual waste policies in order to meet the next statutory targets.

It argued, for instance, that Monmouthshire had made significant headway in meeting these benchmarks by restricting waste collections. That authority is now seen as first in Wales for recycling.

Monmouthshire council collects rubbish fortnightly with restrictions of just two bags per household.

Although their recycling figures remain provisional, they are encouraging:

Monmouthshire recycled 56 per cent of its waste in 12/13 and provisional statistics for 13/14 indicate this had increased to 63 or 64 per cent, a jump of nearly 10 percent in the space of a year.

A Monmouthshire council spokesman said: “Our service is a comprehensive one and is one of the highest recycling performers in Wales, indeed the UK.

“Our residents have been fantastic in their adoption of the service and we can only look to continue to promote recycling.”

Over in Caerphilly, residual waste has been collected fortnightly since 2009 and the statistics also show a trend in the right direction.

The council said it managed to recycle 57 per cent in 12/13 and 58 per cent of its waste for the first three quarters of 13/14 – above the current 52 per cent benchmark.

Nonetheless, the local authority indicated these targets set by the Welsh Government could become increasingly difficult to meet, bearing in mind it wants 70 per cent of items recycled by 2025.

A Caerphilly spokeswoman said: “We have seen a steady increase in recycling over the past decade with the most significant increases since we changed to a fortnightly residual waste collections service in 2009.

“Over the past five years we have been successful in staying ahead of the Welsh Government’s Statutory Recycling Targets – SRTs – but as these ambitious targets increase over time, the achievement of targets may become increasingly challenging without a further increase in recycling rates, participation or a reduction in SRTs.”

Newport council also reported it had felt the pressure in a street scene report from last month.

The report author stated: “Councils have challenging recycling and or composting targets and failure may result in substantial fines.”

The report stated that historically, Newport City Council had been seen as a beacon authority in the way in which it collects its recycling and manages its services.

However, latest statistics show that Newport achieved a 50.03 per cent recycling and composting rate at the end of 2012, narrowly missing the Government target of 52 per cent.

Blaenau Gwent also narrowly failed to reach the benchmark with 51.2 per cent of items recycled in 12/13.

Both local authorities provide weekly kerbside collections for food waste.

A Blaenau Gwent council spokeswoman said on Thursday: “Blaenau Gwent Council remains committed to working to raise recycling rates in the county borough.

“We would like to thank all our residents who make the effort to recycle and for helping us to raise our rates over the past few years, as well as helping the environment.

“Despite having to make recent changes to bulky waste and green waste collections in light of challenging budgets, we hope our communities will continue to work with us to continue the recycling momentum, in order that we can meet the targets and avoid hefty fines.”

Cllr Ken Critchley, Newport council cabinet member for infrastructure, added: “Newport City Council and partners Wastesavers continue to provide a high-quality recycling system for the people of Newport, which is one of the most cost-effective waste management services in Wales.

“We are working hard to achieve tough Welsh Government targets and urge all residents to recycle as much as possible.

“We are constantly looking at more efficient ways of dealing with waste and aim to work with residents to make services work while reducing the waste sent to landfill.”

Comments (8)

Please log in to enable comment sorting

8:51pm Tue 6 May 14

Jonnytrouble says...

The problem has always been those that are so LAZY to recycle, also lots of business premises ( incl where I work )
just have the BIG wheelie bin's and everything is just thrown in so know wonder the targets are not met, pity the Council's can't check up on this and DO SOMETHING !
The problem has always been those that are so LAZY to recycle, also lots of business premises ( incl where I work ) just have the BIG wheelie bin's and everything is just thrown in so know wonder the targets are not met, pity the Council's can't check up on this and DO SOMETHING ! Jonnytrouble
  • Score: -4

8:57pm Tue 6 May 14

Dave on his Soapbox says...

right article this time....
…..the trouble with draconian measures is that it affects those who do their bit to reduce their waste….as much as it hits those who don’t……
And while everyone is different and no two people/families produce the same amount of waste……and this includes the varying amount which cannot be recycled….which again can vary with life style……
And while councils can hide behind the ‘if we don’t hit the targets we COULD be fined’ (if they don't want to lose your vote of course)….what all politicians need to remember is it us the electorate can vote for local/national/Europ
ean candidates that may actually stand up and represent the people who elect them and pay them to do so……
right article this time.... …..the trouble with draconian measures is that it affects those who do their bit to reduce their waste….as much as it hits those who don’t…… And while everyone is different and no two people/families produce the same amount of waste……and this includes the varying amount which cannot be recycled….which again can vary with life style…… And while councils can hide behind the ‘if we don’t hit the targets we COULD be fined’ (if they don't want to lose your vote of course)….what all politicians need to remember is it us the electorate can vote for local/national/Europ ean candidates that may actually stand up and represent the people who elect them and pay them to do so…… Dave on his Soapbox
  • Score: 4

8:59pm Tue 6 May 14

plumbob1 says...

If they go to once a month collection then they will only need half of the collection vehicles and half of the collection operatives.
Therefore a dramatic reduction in council tax.... I doubt it!
If they go to once a month collection then they will only need half of the collection vehicles and half of the collection operatives. Therefore a dramatic reduction in council tax.... I doubt it! plumbob1
  • Score: 9

10:00pm Tue 6 May 14

eezageeza says...

If you want to reduce the amount of waste then surely we should be working with the producers of the waste in the first place ie the supermarkets and retailers but then that would mean squaring up to big business and that can't happen as they have the money and power don't they so they dictate to us what's what ...politicians huh what a bunch of nancies,stand up for yourselves the electorate
If you want to reduce the amount of waste then surely we should be working with the producers of the waste in the first place ie the supermarkets and retailers but then that would mean squaring up to big business and that can't happen as they have the money and power don't they so they dictate to us what's what ...politicians huh what a bunch of nancies,stand up for yourselves the electorate eezageeza
  • Score: 11

9:31am Wed 7 May 14

-trigg- says...

The problem is that many people simply have too many different receptacles for their recycling. Instead of spending an inordinate amount of time working out where to put each individual item, it is only natural that they will instead to choose to put the whole lot into a single bin.

As I've stated elsewhere, the solution is to reduce the number of bins to three: Recyclables, Compost and Non-recyclable, with the recyclable bins being sorted centrally.
The problem is that many people simply have too many different receptacles for their recycling. Instead of spending an inordinate amount of time working out where to put each individual item, it is only natural that they will instead to choose to put the whole lot into a single bin. As I've stated elsewhere, the solution is to reduce the number of bins to three: Recyclables, Compost and Non-recyclable, with the recyclable bins being sorted centrally. -trigg-
  • Score: 4

12:25pm Wed 7 May 14

misslewis says...

Last week I had too much recycling (extra cardboard) and they wouldn't collect it, they said i am to take it to the tip myself. I Drive so can do but what about those who don't have transport or means to get it there? I know that there is a collection service from the council but have you seen there prices lately! The paper will be full of news of fly tipping soon. I do think that big companies should be made to recycle i bet that extra boost would meet the targets then, and then maybe the companies who package goods too which are not recyclable.
Last week I had too much recycling (extra cardboard) and they wouldn't collect it, they said i am to take it to the tip myself. I Drive so can do but what about those who don't have transport or means to get it there? I know that there is a collection service from the council but have you seen there prices lately! The paper will be full of news of fly tipping soon. I do think that big companies should be made to recycle i bet that extra boost would meet the targets then, and then maybe the companies who package goods too which are not recyclable. misslewis
  • Score: 2

1:36pm Wed 7 May 14

Mike0408 says...

so they decide to to go from a weekly collection, to a fortnightly collection, then reduse the size of our household waste bins, and now wanting to do collections once a month?? WTF???

with these smaller bins we have, i have bin bags filling up at the side of the bin as the normal bin is full, i am in a house of 4 people and 1 baby of 15 weeks old, i recycle EVERYTHING, i also do HOMEMADE cooking to try and reduce waste, but everything i try dont seem to be working, yet the council says ''if you recycle properly then there will be plenty of room'', as i just stated i do recycle everything, even food waste which allot of people dont do.
with a monthly collection HOW THE HELL AM I SUPPOSED TO COPE WITH USING THE SMALLER BIN ON MONTHLY COLLECTION??.

i dont want to, but i think i may have to resort to fly tipping if they do start doing this once a month.
so they decide to to go from a weekly collection, to a fortnightly collection, then reduse the size of our household waste bins, and now wanting to do collections once a month?? WTF??? with these smaller bins we have, i have bin bags filling up at the side of the bin as the normal bin is full, i am in a house of 4 people and 1 baby of 15 weeks old, i recycle EVERYTHING, i also do HOMEMADE cooking to try and reduce waste, but everything i try dont seem to be working, yet the council says ''if you recycle properly then there will be plenty of room'', as i just stated i do recycle everything, even food waste which allot of people dont do. with a monthly collection HOW THE HELL AM I SUPPOSED TO COPE WITH USING THE SMALLER BIN ON MONTHLY COLLECTION??. i dont want to, but i think i may have to resort to fly tipping if they do start doing this once a month. Mike0408
  • Score: 0

2:33pm Wed 7 May 14

misslewis says...

I recycle Everything too, It seems to me that they want us to recycle everything but if you have to much take it to the tip yourselves or pay there hefty fee's for them to collect it
I recycle Everything too, It seems to me that they want us to recycle everything but if you have to much take it to the tip yourselves or pay there hefty fee's for them to collect it misslewis
  • Score: 1

Comments are closed on this article.

click2find

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree