PLANS to reduce rubbish collections to either once every three weeks or just once a month have been binned – for now.
Instead the leader of Torfaen Borough Council has said the council will concentrate on working to increase its recycling rate following a public backlash at the proposals unveiled in March.
The council had been consulting on whether it should reduce the frequency it empties purple lidded wheelie bins, for non-food waste that cannot be recycled, to either once every three weeks or once a month from March next year. It said it could no longer continue with fortnightly collections if it was to achieve a 70 per cent recycling target to be enforced from 2025.
But leader Cllr Anthony Hunt said he will close that consultation early and will instead use the remaining number of road shows the council has scheduled in Cwmbran to discuss how to help people recycle with a ‘Raise the Rate’ campaign.
The Labour leader told April’s full council meeting he had been made aware of “genuine concerns” at the impact of reduced collections on large families and those with hygiene waste.
But he said the council and residents will have to work together to increase the borough’s current 62 per cent recycling rate, which is two per cent short of the existing recycling target. Failing to meet the target would see the Welsh Government fine the authority £100,000 for every percentage tonne it falls short.
Cllr Hunt, who represents Panteg, said: “The target to achieve 70 per cent must remain. The evidence is far too much waste in the purple lidded bins should be recycled.”
The council was told the bins for residual waste included up to 40 per cent food waste and 20 per cent paper and cardboard.
However the council leader warned a failure to boost recycling and reduce the amount of residual waste would mean changes to collections, or the introduction of smaller bins, would be brought back. He said: “If we can’t raise the recycling rate we will be left with little option.”
A “culture change” is needed this year, the councillor said, so it can avoid “systemic change” in 2024.
Among steps the council will take to increase recycling are plans for more stretchy plastic collection points, a commitment to work with social landlords to increase recycling facilities at flats and improving the availability of recycling black boxes to households.
From August the council is also introducing weekly cardboard recycling and collection of small electrical items from the kerbside while Cllr Hunt said it is accepted the council must invest in facilities at its Ty Coch recycling centre, which has been identified as a failing in the service.
At the Tuesday, April 25, council meeting, held at the Civic Centre, in Pontypool a public petition was presented to the council before the leader’s announcement.
Resident Ieuan Saunders had collected signatures calling for the council to scrap any plan for three weekly or once a month collections.
Abersychan councillor Giles Davies, who last week quit the Labour group in protest at the changes, said he wanted to “thank the leader and his team” for listening and also appeared to joke he could “come back” to the party.
Llantarnam independent Jason O’Connell also thanked Cllr Hunt and said it would be “hard for anyone in this chamber to ignore” the opposition of residents to the proposals.
He asked if the 70 per cent rate is achieved, after a “concerted education effort”, would the cabinet confirm it would no longer consider introducing three weekly or monthly collections.
Mandy Owen, the Cwmbran Greenmeadow councillor and cabinet member for the environment, said the council will have to work to the 70 per cent target and it had also declared a climate emergency.
The remaining road shows, which are now the first of the Raise the Rate campaign, are scheduled for Thursday, April 27 at Cwmbran Library from 10am – 3pm, in Cwmbran town centre from 10am to 3pm on Tuesday, May 2 and at Cwmbran Leisure Centre on Thursday, May 4 from 5pm to 8pm with more roadshows to be announced.