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Concerns raised over possible changes to kerbside collections in Wrexham

CONCERNS have been raised that residents in Wrexham would struggle to cope if changes are made to the frequency of bin collections.

A report highlighting the need for a shake-up of kerbside collections was considered by councillors this week following a drop in local recycling rates.

The most recent figure for the first three quarters of 2023/24 shows Wrexham’s current recycling rate stands at around 64 per cent, which is within the current Welsh Government target.

However, the goal for local authorities in Wales is set to increase to 70 per cent during the next financial year.

Wrexham Council officials have warned the local authority could face a fine of £660,000 unless its performance improves and changes are made in 2024/25.

Rachel Penman, head of service strategy, said on Wednesday (March 14, 2024) it could mean a reduction in the frequency of black bin collections from the current fortnightly arrangement or bins being reduced in size.

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Speaking at a meeting of the council’s homes and environment committee, she said: “In terms of limiting people’s opportunity to put waste in their black bin, I think the primary way of doing that is to remove the space that they’ve got.

“That’s done by either reducing the size of the black bin or reducing the frequency of collections.

“If there’s space in the black bin, people will put recycling in it is the basic theory of that.”

She added: “From officer meetings that we’ve had with Welsh Government, they are very keen to see that we are on a journey and putting plans in place that will enable us to reach those statutory targets.

“I would be concerned that if we don’t have a plan in place, it might be more likely for us to incur that fine.”

Wrexham was previously ranked as one of the best performing areas in Wales for recycling, achieving a rate of just under 70 per cent in 2019/20.

However, since the Covid-19 pandemic, its position has dropped from fourth out of the 22 local authority areas in Wales to 17th.

Officers said there were several reasons for the dip in performance, including changes in the behaviour of residents and alterations to packaging.

While councillors generally supported the need to improve recycling rates, some said they did not think reducing the frequency of collections would help.

Councillor John Phillips said: “I know Welsh Government has set this statutory target of 70 per cent so to an extent your hands are tied.

“In all honesty, I wouldn’t want to see the bin collections go to three-weekly and I’ll tell you why.

“When we had industrial action last year, it was evident that people couldn’t cope with three or four weeks without a collection. There were bags strewn here, there and everywhere.”

The Penycae councillor said the authority should consider launching an education campaign instead to encourage residents to recycle more.

It was revealed at the meeting that one option being considered was the reintroduction of the “Recycle with Michael” scheme which was created when recycling arrangements were first launched in Wrexham.

The campaign in 2002 saw leaflets and posters issued featuring a cartoon of a teenage boy wearing a backwards cap to deliver messages on how to recycle.

Ms Penman said: “Funnily enough, Recycle with Michael comes up on an almost daily basis. I do think he captured the imagination so that’s something we’re looking at.

“What I would say about the strikes is that change to collections was unplanned.

“We hadn’t planned for it so we didn’t have a three-weekly round ready to go and neither were the public so they were managing their waste in the way that they normally would.”

She added: “Based on a composition analysis of the waste that we collect, over 50 per cent of it is actually recyclable.

“Whilst that’s the case, we need to be doing everything we can to get that recyclable waste out of that black bin, and I don’t know whether further communications is enough.”

However, other community leaders also raised concerns about plans to reduce the frequency of collections.

Acrefair councillor Paul Blackwell said: “Going to a three-weekly collection isn’t going to improve recycling as we need to get to the bottom of why people are not recycling first.

“They’ll just buy rolls of bin bags and throw them out, causing mounds of refuse, which is what’s happening in my ward at the moment, along with rat problems and goodness knows what else.”

Brymbo councillor Paul Rogers said he felt more information was needed before changes to bin collections could be considered.

Committee members asked for a further report to be brought to them in the next few months with more details on the proposals.

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