Changes to how Cardiff residents recycle their waste could be rolled out across large parts of the city as they seek to improve recycling rates and take action on climate change.
The climate crisis is forcing cities around the world to change the amount of energy and resources they use. So, in addition to improving the amount of waste we all recycle, the new strategy will also seek to reduce the overall amount of waste we all produce, and -make our recycled materials so they can be reused and reused.
The new recycling strategy follows the ‘blueprint’ designed by the Welsh Government and its partners, which has seen Wales become the third best recycling nation in the world. Many authorities in Wales have already started separate recycling, with high levels of public compliance and improved recycling rates.
Earlier this year, around 4,000 homes in the city took part in the pilot project which saw recyclables separated by residents and placed in specific containers for collection. Bottles and jars in one container, paper and cardboard in another, and plastic and metal/tin containers in a third.
And earlier this year, more than 3,000 locals took part in a consultation on how waste collection could be changed to improve recycling rates, improve the quality of recycling, tackle the climate emergency, reduce plastics single-use and help make Cardiff one of the world’s leading recycling cities.
A recent independent analysis by WRAP of the composition of general waste presented for curbside collection in Cardiff showed that more than half of the contents of bags and bins could in fact be presented for recycling.
Now Cardiff Council Cabinet will discuss a recycling strategy for the city through to 2025 at their next meeting on Wednesday September 28.ewho recommends:
- The gradual deployment of the pilot program in homes in several areas of the city.
- Design other pilots to develop ways to ensure people who live in apartment buildings or multi-occupancy homes (HMOs) can better recycle (about 30% of homes in the city).
- Increase the amount of items that can be presented for curbside and neighborhood recycling locations, to help residents easily recycle things like batteries; Tetrapacks (boxes); coffee pods; textiles and small electrical appliances; and,
- Trial methods to limit the amount of general waste that households can present for collection, including moving to a three-week collection for non-recyclable waste in areas where residents have wheelie bins, and a limit of two bin bags per fortnight in areas where non-recyclable household waste is collected in bags. Separate collections for hygiene (diapers for children and incontinence waste) will remain in place.
Cllr Caro Wild, Cabinet Member of the Cardiff Council for Climate Change, said: ‘To act on the climate emergency, we urgently need to make changes to the way the city uses resources, improve the way we recycle is something we can all do and it’s one of the easiest ways to make a difference. We also believe these changes will help us keep our city clean.”
Most residents currently put a mixture of their recyclables in a green plastic bag for collection by the council. This is then taken to a Materials Recycling Facility (MRF) where it is separated before being sent for recycling and processing. However, this method produces a high level of contamination, with non-recyclables such as food and nappies ending up in the green bags, which affects the council’s ability to recycle the materials. And this collection method also produces a large amount of single-use plastic (the green bags) which is bad for the environment.
Cllr Wild added: “When we undertook the pilot project, we saw very positive results. Contamination went from an average of 30% to just 6%. The system seemed easier for people to understand and, of course, it eliminated the need for single-use plastic green bags. It was a win-win in terms of improving recycling and reducing unnecessary plastic waste. We now provide enough green bags to households in Cardiff each year – 23.7 million – to almost circle the globe if they were all on one giant roll. It shocked me when I heard this, and I know it will shock many residents as well. This is clearly something we need to put an end to.
As well as helping to tackle the climate emergency, the recycling strategy is designed to put in place measures that will help the town meet Welsh Government targets and avoid a financial penalty. Although Cardiff has one of the best recycling records of any major city in the UK and Europe, it still lags behind all other local authorities in Wales. Recycling performance in 2021/22 was around 60% meaning the city fell short of the Welsh Government’s legally binding recycling target of 64% recycling. Failure to meet the 64% target could result in a financial penalty.
Currently, the Welsh Government’s target is to achieve a recycling performance of 64% between 2019/20 and 2023/24. This changes to a recycling performance of 70% from 2024/25.
Cardiff Council currently offers weekly food waste collections, weekly green bag collections for combined recycling, bi-monthly summer garden waste collections, bi-monthly residual waste collections, bi-monthly hygiene collections (on request ) and bulky waste collections (on request).
The strategy examines how recycling figures can be improved, moving from mixed recycling to separate recycling; use reusable bags/caddies instead of single-use green plastic bags; multiply opportunities for easy recycling in neighborhoods, increase the range of recyclable materials at the curb, promote reuse and repair and improve the recycling performance of the Municipality’s commercial waste service.
About 30% of properties in Cardiff are made up of flats and shared houses or houses with multiple occupancy (HMO). These types of properties generally have a higher level of non-participation in recycling and where recycling takes place there are high levels of contamination in the mixed recycling. The strategy recommends developing pilots to address the various challenges that these properties bring to recycling.
Cllr Wild added: “We know we face a number of challenges. We live in a big city with a diverse housing stock, transient population, high proportion of businesses and large-scale events, all of which bring additional waste. At the same time, we know that the quality of our recycling could be much better. Nearly a third of the material collected in our green bags should not be there and is currently sent for incineration. Then there is food waste and recyclables that go in our black bin and bag waste that should be in the food basket or green bags.
“We are at the start of a climate crisis, with serious consequences for humanity and future generations around the world, including Cardiff. The overheating of the planet’s atmosphere has been caused by man, the unsustainable use of the earth’s resources, and in particular by the associated carbon emissions.Nowhere is this more evident than in the amount of waste we produce.All the waste we throw outside our homes is caused by us. It’s a very visual part of our climate footprint, especially when you consider the life cycle of materials, where they came from and how they were produced. We can be proud that Wales plays a a leadership role in designing and implementing some of the world’s most sustainable recycling and waste management strategies and is currently the third best country for recycling in the world.Cardiff also gets good r outperforms other central UK cities, but lags behind other authorities in Wales in terms of recycling performance. We all need to do our part now to improve the way we recycle and reduce the amount of waste we produce.
“The fact is that we burn valuable materials, and as a council we simply cannot continue to collect mishandled rubbish on people’s doorsteps and sort it for them. We must collectively take responsibility for the materials we produce. There is a much more sustainable way to manage our waste that dramatically reduces our carbon footprint and respects the Earth’s precious resources. This can be identified as reducing the amount we use, reusing wherever we can, and then separating our recycling so it can be reused. This will help develop a circular economy, where we properly manage waste as a valuable resource. Consider refuse, reduce, reuse, repair, reuse, recycle.
“We consulted residents about a new system and began testing. We know there is support across the city for making these changes, but we also understand that the changes may upset some people. However, this strategy offers us all a pathway to make positive changes for our planet. We need everyone to rally and support each other to become a cleaner and more sustainable city. »
Recycling strategy to 2025 for Cardiff highlights
A program of progressive change including:
- Continue the transition from mixed recycling in green plastic bags to separate collection in separate containers
- Reduce the 23.7 million single-use green plastic bags we use every year
- Trying New Approaches to Recycling in Apartments and Multi-Occupancy Homes (HMOs)
- Testing new methods to restrict general waste collections (black bins) including collections every three weeks from every two weeks and two bags per fortnight for those currently presenting bags
- Increase recycling opportunities (community recycling areas)
- Increase the number of materials that can be recycled (diapers, coffee makers, etc.)
- Promote reuse and repair to improve recycling
- Provide more door-to-door recycling education
- Increased same-day street cleaning and stricter enforcement after collections.