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Caerphilly Council records lowest recycling performance in Wales

General view of Caerphilly council bins (Pic: LDRS)

CAERPHILLY’S recycling rates are now the lowest in Wales, according to new figures.

The county borough’s performance slipped to recycling 60.1% of all waste in 2023, down from 60.7% the year before.

Caerphilly Council, which is considering bringing in four-weekly bin collections as one way to encourage people to recycle more, said it is “committed to rectifying” its ailing recycling rates.

Welsh Government figures show the council’s rates have generally fallen steadily over the past seven years and now languish well below national targets.

Any councils which fail to meet minimum performance rates are liable to pay hefty fines, as the government seeks to maintain Wales as one of the world’s best-performing recycling nations.

Until April, the recycling rate required to avoid those penalties was 64%, and the worrying issue in Caerphilly is that its performance is heading in the wrong direction.

The council was comfortably ahead of that 64% figure until 2019, when rates started to dip below the target – and are yet to recover.

This year, the government hiked its target rate to 70%, piling pressure on councils to recycle even more of the waste they collect.

But even if the old target had stayed in place, Caerphilly Council’s latest sub-par recycling rates would leave it open to fines, mooted last year by senior councillors to be as much as £2 million annually.

The council last year announced a new draft waste strategy designed to drive up its recycling rates, and a three-month public consultation on those plans closed this April.

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A spokesperson for Caerphilly Council said councillors will consider the public’s feedback in June, before cabinet members receive the final report on the strategy in July.

Possible actions include new containers for residents to separate recyclable materials and four-weekly collections of non-recyclable waste.

That is in addition to a series of “quick wins” the council announced midway through 2023, including a trial of free food caddy liners to encourage people to stop throwing their leftovers and vegetable peelings in the bin.

Until then, Caerphilly was an outlier in not providing that service for residents.

The council spokesperson said its “quick wins” were already starting to make a difference.

“We have already made good progress with several of these milestones including the start of a 12-month free caddy liner trial, which saw an 11% year-on-year increase to food waste recycling tonnage in the three months following the launch at the end of 2023,” they said.

The spokesperson added that Caerphilly Council is “aware that our recycling performance has declined in recent years and are committed to rectifying this”.

The council has also announced tighter rules on what people can throw away at its tips, or so-called household recycling centres.

Around half of what was being dumped at the county borough’s tips could have been recycled, the local authority said at the time.

Since February, residents have been required to pre-sort their waste before arriving at a tip, where bags of waste are also being “monitored” by staff to make sure “no recyclable materials are inside”.

A controversial plan to bring in a booking system at Caerphilly’s tips was axed from the waste strategy consultation, however, after some councillors said it could lead to more fly-tipping.