It’s not a waste of time!

The Environment and Communities Overview and Scrutiny Board has completed its review into waste minimisation, recycling and composting. The review report and the findings report detailing the evidence collected can be found in our reports library page here. The report has now been sent to Councillor John Hague, the Cabinet Member for Environment.

Why this matters

It is crucial that the Council is able to reduce the amount of waste sent to landfill. This is because, whilst over the past century Wales has buried most of its rubbish in landfill, we are running out of room in our existing landfill sites. Landfill tax is increasing and will continue to rise over the next few years. The cost to the Council to dispose of refuse in landfill currently is £68 per ton for household waste and this is set to increase to over £100 per ton in 2015. To put this into perspective, this means that in 2010-11 it cost the Council £4.8 million to dump our waste.

In addition to this, the Council could face possible fines if we don’t achieve Welsh Assembly Government targets to reduce the amount of waste sent to landfill. The Board agreed that in a time of great economic need we simply cannot allow our scarce financial resources to be wasted this way, so it is essential that we reduce our waste as much as possible.

Evidence gathered

The Board held eight separate evidence gathering sessions over a period of nine months before analysing the evidence gathered to form their conclusions and recommendations.

During this work Board members carried out site visits to the Bailing Plant, MREC (Materials Recovery and Energy Centre) and Tir John Landfill Site. They also met with Swansea Waste Forum and members of the SCRAP partnership. They looked at performance data, local policies and national strategies and examples of good practice.  Surveys were carried out with the general public and the Board also received information on the activities undertaken by the recycling team, and other sections of the Council, to reduce waste and increase recycling.

What does the report say?

 The Board agreed that a substantial amount of work has been undertaken by the Recycling Team and the rest of the Environment Directorate to achieve the targets  and this is reflected in rising levels of recycling. However, without increased participation from the residents of the City & County of Swansea there is a risk that the challenging targets will not be met. This led the Board to make a number of recommendations to support and enhance this work. Some of these include:

  • Review the provision and availability of information to the public on recycling and refuse services.
  • Extend the Green Champion scheme to include Councillors.
  • Suggestions to protect resources for recycling research and ideas for further research to identify problems and encourage public participation in recycling schemes
  • Suggestions for further work with schools such as a recycling competition and developing a short film highlighting the processes involved in recycling and issues around waste minimisation.
  • Extending partnership working with community recycling organisations. 
  • Addressing the problem of lack of storage space for recycling.
  • Review provision of ‘Bring’ sites, particularly in areas of low participation in the recycling scheme.
  • Publicise standards for collection crews and the waste management section as a whole so that the public are clear on the level of service that they can expect.

Next steps

Now that the report has been agreed by the Board it will go to a Cabinet meeting during the next couple of months, when the Cabinet Member  will give his response to the recommendations. The Board will then monitor the implementation of the accepted recommendations.

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