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Residents doubtful cuts to bin collections will improve recycling rates

A worker loading waste into a bin lorry in Caerphilly (Pic: Caerphilly County Borough Council)

PLANS for three- or four-weekly bin collections in Caerphilly have drawn a “mixed” response from residents – and none of the council’s main proposals to improve recycling rates has won an overall majority of support.

Nearly 3,000 residents from across the county borough responded to a recent public consultation on Caerphilly County Borough Council’s new draft waste strategy.

In it the council sets out possible methods to drive up the area’s ailing recycling rates, which recent figures showed were the worst in Wales.

Failing to recycle 70% of the waste it collects could land the council with millions of pounds in Welsh Government fines.

Cuts to bin and garden waste collections, the closure of some tips, and separate containers for recyclable materials have all been put forward as possible solutions.

Public support for the council’s proposals, however, is less than convincing, according to a new report.

Just 21% of people said they thought making less frequent collections of non-recyclable rubbish would make a difference to the council’s recycling performance, with 59% thinking it would not help.

“Many” respondents, including people living in larger households, told the council “they already have a general waste bin at full capacity after a fortnight, despite the fact they recycle all they are able to”.

When offered a choice between three- or four-weekly bin collections, 83% of respondents said they would prefer the former.

A proposal to require residents to pre-sort recycling at the kerbside also drew a mixed reaction, with just one in four believing it will improve Caerphilly’s recycling rates.

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Supporters said separating materials could improve awareness of what can and can’t be recycled – hopefully reducing incidents of contamination – but there are also concerns a “more complicated system will require more effort, and therefore lead to lower participation”.

The council also acknowledged there could be “storage implications” and accessibility problems for some residents.

Garden waste collections could be cut, from weekly to every fortnight, but slightly fewer than half of people said this would help improve recycling rates.

The council also suggested limiting green waste collections to eight months, but after receiving feedback would extend this to nine months – and potentially lift the current four-bag limit.

Perhaps the most controversial proposal was to possibly close some of the council’s tips, now called household recycling centres (HRCs).

Some 8% of respondents said this would help Caerphilly improve recycling performance, with 72% disagreeing.

Critics raised concerns about fly-tipping and the environmental consequences of having to drive further to a HRC – and following the feedback the council suggested reducing the opening hours would be “preferable over complete closure”.

The council’s joint scrutiny committee will debate the draft waste strategy on July 8, with a final decision on the plans due at the end of the month.

Marcus Lloyd, the council’s head of infrastructure and waste, said the strategy “outlines how Caerphilly Council aims to reach and exceed future statutory targets, through a range of measures that will increase recycling rates and decrease overall waste arising, whilst also looking at decarbonisation measures to help tackle climate change”.