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Council could face huge fine over waste and recycling

Segregated recycling is being rolled out to tens of thousands of homes across Cardiff (Pic: Ted Peskett)

CARDIFF Council could face a huge fine if it does not go ahead with controversial changes to the way it collects waste and recycling in the city.

The local authority said it was looking to move black bin bag collections to once every three weeks when it made its first budget announcement in January.

Following a consultation exercise between January 8 and February 4, the council made it clear it intends to go ahead with recommending this proposal to cabinet members on Thursday, February 29.

At a Cardiff Council environmental scrutiny committee meeting, members were also told segregated recycling will be rolled out to 80,000 more households later in the year.

In response to a committee member’s question about whether the proposed changes to waste collection are a sensible way to use council funds, a council official said the council could be fined more than £1m if it does not reach its recycling target.

Cardiff Council’s assistant director for street scene Matthew Wakelam said: “You have got to remember that behind there, there is the statutory requirement to try and achieve [70%] recycling performance and we are speaking with Welsh Government officers and the minister to try and understand their position.

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“One of the aspects that the officers and Welsh Government minister have said is they want to see extended frequency of collections and they also want to see segregated recycling collections.

“We are implementing what the minister and what Welsh Government officers want, so in that premise, even if we don’t achieve [70%] then we won’t hit those physical penalties that they could put on us.”

The statutory minimum recycling target of 70% has been achieved by five local authorities in Wales – Swansea, Pembrokeshire, Bridgend, Ceredigion and Monmouthshire.

In December 2023, it was reported that 17 of the 22 Welsh local authorities had exceeded the 64% target that was previously set.

Mr Wakelam said Cardiff Council is approaching 64% and is currently carrying about £3m worth of physical penalties from its past recycling performance.

He added: “If we stay at about 64%, and not achieve 70%, [the penalty] could be in the region of about £1.9m. So, it is important I think in the background that you have got that in mind.”

If agreed by cabinet members this week, the council budget proposals for the 2024-25 financial year will go to a vote on March 7.