The number of black bags that residents in Carmarthenshire can put out for collection will change from four to three per fortnight in a bid to boost recycling rates.
Households across the county will also receive food bin liners for the first time to encourage more people to recycle their food waste.
It is hoped these measures – along with the introduction of black bag sorting at the recycling centres – will help the council to achieve Welsh Government’s 64% recycling target by the end of this financial year and avoid a “hefty fine”.
In a report to the council’s executive board, Cllr Hazel Evans said a major education programme would also be launched.
In recent years we have achieved high recycling figures but last year there was a reduction in our overall figure and we only just achieved 58%
“I would like to thank all Carmarthenshire households for their recycling efforts but it is important we continue to increase our recycling rate,” she said.
“In recent years we have achieved high recycling figures but last year there was a reduction in our overall figure and we only just achieved 58%.
“This year’s target is 64% and Welsh Government have said they will fine local authorities if they do not reach it and it is £164,000 for every 1% failure of the target. So if we stay as we are that could mean a fine of £820,000 which is the equivalent of 17 teachers or 33 care workers.
“But with these changes which will be introduced from October there is every chance we could exceed this target.”
Figures show that almost half of all the black bag waste put out for collection in Carmarthenshire is recyclable – and as much as a quarter of it is food waste, the council says.
The council cites reasearch that suggests that other authorities that have introduced restrictions on black bags have seen an increase in both food and dry recycling. It says, according to a consultation carried out earlier this year, 86% of respondents supported a reduction in the black bag allowance and of those 64% thought black bags should be limited to three per household.
Large families of six or more, families that have children in nappies and households that produce coal ash waste from indoor fireplaces will be able to apply for additional bags “if they need it”, the council says.
Food bin liners will also be delivered to all households in Carmarthenshire along with blue bags to help people recycle their food waste. A total of 64% of residents who said they did not recycle their food waste said they would be more likely to do so if they were provided with free food bin liners.
It is hoped that the introduction of food bin liners together with the black bag restriction will help increase the county’s overall recycling rate by 3.3%.
From October, designated sorting areas will also be introduced at the recycling centres for black bags and any recyclable material will have to be removed by residents. It is projected that this will result in a 3.1% increase in the recycling rate. The system has already been introduced at a number of other local authority recycling centres with much success.
It follows other measures introduced at the recycling centres in April to deter people bringing their rubbish in from out of county and to stop commercial waste entering the sites – both of which were having a detrimental effect on the recycling rate.
Cllr Cefin Campbell said he completely agreed with the recommendations in the report, he added: “I am pleased to hear that there will be a campaign to educate people on what can and can’t be recycled, and also what the likely cost penalty will be; it means less teachers and carers. Being careless or lazy does have an impact on the services we provide, this might have more of an impact on people.”