'Sort recycling' EU rule concerns Welsh councils
Published: 1st Aug 2012 07:22:48
Many households in Wales could soon be forced to sort recycling into separate containers after new EU rules means single bag collections could be banned.
At present, around half of councils allow people to put all their recycling in the same bag to be sorted later.
But the European directive could mean recycled waste would have to be separated before collection from 2015.
Councils have warned of "far reaching consequences" if they are forced to change the way they collect recycling.
Many councils have spent millions on facilities to sort bags of mixed waste before it goes on to be recycled.
But critics say collecting mixed bags of recycling, or co-mingling, is inferior.
And they have welcomed a European directive which is likely to force councils to change their systems - although the UK government interpretation of the rules still face a judicial review.
The Welsh government says it wants all councils to operate separate kerbside collections, but has no plans to force them to do so.
Separate kerbside collection would mean, for example, that households have to put waste paper, tins, glass and plastics in separate bags or boxes.
There are fears the European directive, which comes into force in January 2015, will leave authorities with little option but to scrap the co-mingled approach.
Many councils say residents value the simplicity of "all in one bag" schemes and fear funding from the Welsh government may be cut.
The Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA) said it hoped to avoid a "prescriptive approach to future funding".
A spokesman said: "With local councils facing financial penalties for any failure to meet recycling targets in Wales, they must be free to shape their support for national recycling targets by developing locally determined collection services that reflect the specific needs of the local council and the communities they serve."
He added confusion about the viability of co-mingled collections "has the potential to have far reaching consequences for both councils and their local communities, as around half of Welsh councils currently operate some form of co-mingled collection service".
"If we are to maintain local support and limit disruption to our residents in the future, we have a duty to work together to solve the collections issue as a matter of some urgency."
Tomos Livingstone, BBC Wales political correspondent
Wales has got a pretty good record on recycling but councils go about it in a different way. Some ask households to separate their paper, glass and tins themselves, others say put it all in a green bag and we will do it.
But the EU objects to this latter method, saying too much of what is supposed to be recycled ends up being thrown away because it is dirty or damaged. It wants everyone to separate out their waste by 2015.
There are plenty of people who think this is none of the EU's business, nor the Welsh government's for that matter. They feel that councils should be allowed to choose their own method.
Many councils have already spent millions on facilities that sort out recycling after it has been collected. Under EU regulations these would would become redundant and councils would take a financial hit. They would also have to invest in new recycling lorries.
A further complication is that the Welsh government hands out a grant to councils - £72m last year -so they can invest in recycling. But if councils are in breach of the directives then the Welsh government cannot give them the money.
Councils have set ambitious targets to recycle 52% of household waste by 2013 and 70% by 2025. The current level is 48%.
They face steep penalties if too much waste is sent to landfill.
A spokesperson for Environment Minister John Griffiths said: "Kerbside sorting is the Welsh government's preferred method of recycling collection as evidence shows that it delivers better sustainable development outcomes than co-mingling.
"This method of collection reduces residual waste and results in the collection of high levels of clean recyclables that can be reprocessed into new products. It also tends to be better value for money than co-mingled kerbside approaches.
"The Welsh government would like to see all local authorities adopt kerbside sorting in order to achieve greater consistency of service across Wales."
Mal Williams, the chairman of the Campaign for Real Recycling, said he agreed with the minister that kerbside sorting is preferable.
"If you chose to either go down co-mingled or kerbside sorting route, in the kerbside sorting instance you have to buy a lot of new trucks, because the kerbside sort trucks don't look like waste trucks, so it's an extra investment there, but then the people are doing the sorting for you, you haven't got to build a sorting facility so you get the saving there," he said.
"Newport have been doing kerbside sorting for the whole period and they are still, by far and by a large margin, the cheapest and most cost-effective operation in Western Europe."
Would you be happy to sort out items for recycling into separate bags or boxes before they're collected from your home? We will publish a selection of your views.
If you are happy to be contacted by a BBC journalist please leave a telephone number that we can contact you on. In some cases a selection of your comments will be published, displaying your name as you provide it and location, unless you state otherwise. Your contact details will never be published. When sending us pictures, video or eyewitness accounts at no time should you endanger yourself or others, take any unnecessary risks or infringe any laws. Please ensure you have read the terms and conditions.
Terms and conditions
Harvard CitationBBC News, 2012. 'Sort recycling' EU rule concerns Welsh councils. [Online] (Updated 01 Aug 2012)
Available at: http://www.ukwirednews.com/news.php/1443833-Sort-recycling-EU-rule-concerns-Welsh-councils [Accessed 21st May 2013]
More Wales News
Proposals to close three Gwynedd primary schools and create a £4.8m school in their place are going before the council's cabinet....
Children unable to prove their religious beliefs could lose free bus travel to school....
Flintshire is set to declare its backing for neighbouring Wrexham to be the location for a "super" prison for north Wales....
The UK education secretary has said it is time for Wales to go its separate way on GCSEs and A-levels....
An inquiry into the future of devolution is inviting the public to have its say....
Two kayakers have been pulled from the sea near Llandudno and one of them taken to hospital suffering from hypothermia....
Legislation binding contracts between dairy farmers and milk processors must be drawn up if a voluntary code of practice fails, say MPs....
The prosecution case against the man accused of murdering five-year-old April Jones is expected to conclude later....
A man has been airlifted to safety from a cliff in Pembrokeshire after being spotted by a lifeboat crew on exercise....
The planned shut down of Britain's oldest nuclear reactor on Anglesey could be extended by 15 months if safety inspectors approve the w...
At 11:52:33 in HeadlinesIsraeli and Syrian forces have exchanged fire across the ceasefire line in the occupied Golan Heights....
At 11:52:14 in Northern IrelandThe Education Minister, John O'Dowd, has said primary schools will not be required to use computer-based tests for literacy and numerac...
At 11:44:09 in EntertainmentBarbra Streisand is to receive an honorary doctorate of philosophy from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. ...
At 11:39:47 in EnglandEddie Braben, the writer behind comedy duo Morecambe and Wise, has died at 82....
At 11:39:36 in EnglandAn area of woodland in Bath has been cut back without full permission, campaigners have said....
At 11:36:17 in EnglandA man has been charged with the possession of an imitation firearm following an incident in Keynsham....
At 11:34:02 in ScotlandA drug courier who was caught with heroin with a potential street value of £2.7m has been jailed for seven years. ...
At 11:33:49 in HeadlinesPakistani politician Imran Khan has walked a short distance, two weeks after falling and injuring his spine an election rally, his PTI party...
At 11:31:57 in WalesProposals to close three Gwynedd primary schools and create a £4.8m school in their place are going before the council's cabinet....
At 11:31:56 in BusinessThree former top executives from carmaker Saab Automobile have been arrested in Sweden on suspicion of accounting fraud....
News In Other Categories
With the doors to its brand new £1million training centre officially open, one of the UK's leading apprentice training providers, Bristol ba...
Barbra Streisand is to receive an honorary doctorate of philosophy from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. ...
The secretary of state for education has said its time for England, Wales and Northern Ireland to go their separate ways on GCSEs and A-leve...
Big UK net firms have begun blocking access to two sites accused of flouting copyright laws....
Israeli and Syrian forces have exchanged fire across the ceasefire line in the occupied Golan Heights....
The Education Minister, John O'Dowd, has said primary schools will not be required to use computer-based tests for literacy and numerac...