RECYCLING rates in Blaenau Gwent dropped during 2020/21 – resulting in the  council plunging down the local authority league table.

At a meeting of Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council, the Community Services committee discussed Waste and Recycling Performance for the last year.

The target set by the Welsh Government at the moment is for 64 per cent of waste to be recycled, and this is expected to rise to 70 per cent by 2024/25.

The data shows that for 2020/21 Blaenau Gwent achieved a rate of 64.29 per cent – down from 65.31 per cent in 2019/20.

The Welsh Government penalises councils £200 for every tonne short of hitting the 64 per cent target.

South Wales Argus: Recycling Table - Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council for 2020/21

In 2019/20 Blaenau Gwent were ranked 11th out of the 22 local authorities in Wales.

In 2020/21 the council dropped to 18th position.

Collection of rubbish that goes into the black wheelie bin – known as “residual waste” went up from 97,799.5 tonnes in 2019 to 11,149.5 tonnes in 2020/21.

The report indicated that the Covid-19 pandemic had caused some issues with people changing their “buying habits” which saw more cardboard needing to be collected.

Blaenau Gwent say they saw a 36.66 per cent increase in the amount of cardboard being collected and their vehicles are “not designed” for this.

Cllr John C Morgan said: “Year on year even though there’s been a slight drop in performance, we do very well on kerbside recycling, but I think it’s unfair that we’re hit by composting figures.

“We’re always going to be on the lower half of the table simply because of those figures, because we have a large amount of terraced properties whereas rural counties don’t.

“If you look at the (2020/21) table you will the top seven counties are all rural councils.

“It’s something the Welsh Government should address so we have a fairer look.

Blaenau Gwent’s neighbourhood services manager, Mathew Stent said: “The composting element does leave us at a disadvantage and we’re looking to focus our efforts on food recycling with our residents to see if that can improve.

“With regards to residual waste increase – we ceased to our enforcement activity for a significant period we are looking to roll that back – hoping that will change people behaviour and remove recyclable material from black bag waste if that’s what some ae still doing.”

Councillors voted in favour of accepting the report and it will be discussed by the Executive committee at a meeting in November.

Following the meeting, Cllr Joana Wilkins the Executive councillor for Environment said: “I would like to thank our residents for continuing to recycle and thinking more about how they dispose of their waste and our recycling and waste frontline workers who have continued to work throughout these challenging times.

“This year’s Waste and Recycling Performance Report shows that we have continued to meet our recycling targets throughout these unprecedented times. ”

She added that the council is “developing and modernising” its approach for the future.