Wales needs a more common approach to waste collection, according to the National Assembly for Wales Environment and Sustainability Committee’s Alun Ffred Jones AM, who said that after dismissing suggestions a decade ago, the Welsh government is now attempting to do just that.
Speaking at CIWM’s Resource Conference Cymru 2015, Ffred Jones said that the Committee conducted an enquiry ten years ago that suggested there should be a “common approach” to waste collection.
“But the Government did not agree to that at the time,” he said. “I think that was a big, big mistake. Because now the Government thinks there should be a common approach.
“It’s very late in the day for local authorities to change their ways, having invested in different approaches,” he said.
Wales is one of the highest recyclers within the EU and it is the only country in the UK to introduce statutory recycling targets for local authorities.
Alun Ffred Jones AM — “It’s very late in the day for local authorities to change their ways, having invested in different approaches”
With Wales’ targets heading towards 70 percent in 2025, Ffred Jones said that achieving this higher rate will be a more difficult journey than achieving 50 percent.
Speaking about Wales’ enquiry into how local authorities in the country collect waste and recycling, Ffred Jones said at the Wales Millennium Centre (pictured) this morning (10 March) that, looking at the results, it’s clear that every local authority has a different approach to waste collection and recycling.
The National Assembly for Wales Environment and Sustainability Committee enquiry found that no single method of collecting recyclable resources from householders offers a clear lead in performance.
Whilst there has been improvement in meeting recycling targets in Wales, 9 of the 22 local authorities did not achieve the 52 percent target for 2012-13 and, according to data from March 2014, 3 local authorities are yet to achieve this target.
The purpose of the inquiry, which was launched in May last year (see CIWM Journal Online story), was to explore current local authority household waste recycling practice and arrangements across Wales.
The Committee found that there are 22 different approaches to waste collection in Wales, underpinned by three broad recycling collection methods. No single method of collecting recyclable resources from householders offers a clear lead in performance, cost or efficiency and meeting weight-based targets for recycling must not detract from efforts to reduce waste.
Ffred Jones revealed that the Welsh Government will publish an independent review of its Collection Blueprint in 2016.
Ffred Jones also spoke to delegates on the issue of weight-based targets, asking whether this was appropriate as the country moves towards higher targets. He suggested that weight-based targets may drive the wrong behaviours, with the temptation for local authorities to focus on collecting heavier items and could be in conflict with Wales’ wider environmental goals.
Communication with the public was also highlighted, with Ffred Jones saying that it is an issue that is “absolutely crucial” to continuing to improve in recycling.
“The Committee is encouraged that Wales in taking a lead in recycling, but there is some way to go before we get too self satisfied,” he concluded.