Waste and Recycling Changes Explained

A letter to residents

20 February 2018


Along with senior waste management officers from the Vale of Glamorgan Council I wrote to all residents in 2011, to explain the reasons for moving from a source separated kerbside recycling collection service where different materials were collected over a two-week period, to a weekly co-mingled collection service where all materials could be mixed and

collected on a weekly basis.

Cox, Geoff


At that time our recycling performance needed a boost to move from 40% of all the domestic waste produced to 52% required by Welsh Government by 2012/13. With the considerable efforts of our residents we exceeded the 52% and for the 2015/16 period the Vale of Glamorgan had the second highest recycling figures in Wales, proving that the service change was correct at that time.


In 2011 we said that the recycling and waste collection arrangements would have to be kept under review to ensure that they remained sustainable, met Welsh Government objectives and the National Waste Strategy. We also advised that world markets for recycling would need to be monitored to establish if certain materials needed to be collected separately in future to protect their value. One of the drawbacks with co-mingled recyclate is that its value is generally less than materials that have been separated at source, due to the potential for cross contamination. In short, co-mingled recycling is less desirable and therefore less valuable that the same material that has been source separated. 


A lot has changed since 2011. We are no longer in the top 10 in Wales for recycling, our recycling reprocessing costs for our co-mingled materials is increasing due to the world markets situation and in particular the banning of all imported recycling by China. Whilst we send very little of our material to China, the markets we do use are now being affected by this change. The world market for recycling is important as it ultimately affects the commodity price. There could come a time where there is no market for poorer quality recyclate, meaning such material may have to be sent to landfill or disposed of by some other process such as incineration This means that the provision of higher quality recycled material is becoming more and more important.


In addition, in January 2015 legislation came into force (Waste Framework Directive Articles 10[2] and 11[1]) requiring local authorities to "take measures to promote high quality recycling and to this end, set up separate collections of waste where technically, environmentally and economically practicable and appropriate to meet the necessary quality standards for the relevant recycling sectors". The Directive requires that separate collections be set up “for at least paper, metal, plastic and glass", and this requirement was transposed into UK legislation by The Waste (England and Wales Amendment) Regulations 2012.  


Welsh Government has provided assistance to the Vale of Glamorgan Council in assessing our compliance with the new legislation and also National Waste Policy by reviewing and reporting on our waste options. I presented the report produced by their partners, Waste Resource Action Programme (WRAP), at the Council’s Cabinet on Monday 19th February 2018. The report details the outcomes of this process and the changes to our waste and recycling service that I believe are required to enable us to better manage our future waste costs, to remain within current legislation and reach the 70% recycling target for 2024/25.

Waste and recycling lorry


The changes will be subject to public consultation prior to implementation, but I am recommending a move to source separated weekly dry recycling collections later this year. This however is subject to the Council receiving the necessary capital funding from Welsh Government to assist with the change in collection vehicles and the building of a new waste transfer station on land that the Council owns on the Atlantic Trading Estate, Barry.


It should be noted that Welsh Government capital grant funding is only available for Councils that move towards separate kerbside collections of dry recycling as this complies with the Welsh Government ‘Blueprint’ for collections and current National Waste Policy.


It is estimated that this would produce revenue savings to the Council of circa £400k per annum from transport savings and increased recycling material sale values.


The service would use the same receptacles, (plastic boxes and blue bags) and 4 of these would be required; 1 for metals and plastics, 1 for paper, 1 for cardboard and 1 for glass.  


Food waste collections are proposed to remain the same.


Like many other Councils in Wales I am now proposing a limit to the number of black bags that can be placed out for collection to two bags per fortnight to try and encourage increased recycling. Concessions will be offered for large families and those with specific waste demands, such as a requirement to dispose of sanitary products. This is one of the factors that will be considered as part of the public consultation process.


I appreciate that what is being suggested is a major service change that will affect every resident, yet I believe it is a necessary change at this time, as I did when we last implemented major changes to this service in 2011. Our revenue costs continue to increase with co-mingling due to the material quality and diminishing international markets, our recycling performance is static, and we require significant capital investment to avoid fines of £200 per tonne for every tonne of waste not recycled if we fail to meet the 2024/25 targets. Such investment is not available to us unless we align our services better with current National Waste Policy.


I seek the assistance and understanding of all our residents as we move into this challenging time for waste management in Wales. As a Council we have managed to avoid restrictive practices with our waste services up until now but unfortunately this cannot continue due to the targets we now face and the risks of not meeting those targets. We will of course provide every support that we can should the Council’s Cabinet ultimately decide to progress with these changes.


I look forward to once again leading the way in Wales in this most important service area.


Cllr Geoff Cox

Cabinet Member for Neighbourhood Services and Transport

Vale of Glamorgan Council