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New Cardiff recycling plan could see plastic, metal, glass and paper separated at kerb

A new recycling plan for Cardiff could see residents separating plastic, metal, glass and paper at the kerbside.

Cardiff council could face heavy fines for missing recycling targets set by the Welsh Government.

Council bosses are currently reviewing how to change the way residents recycle and improve rates, ahead of revealing the plan this autumn.

This review includes potentially getting residents to separate recycling at home by the type of material into separate containers, as already done in many other Welsh council areas.

Councillor Michael Michael, cabinet member for clean streets, recycling and environment, revealed details of the review during a full council meeting on Thursday, July 24, in response to a question from Cllr Lyn Hudson.

He said: “The development of a new collection model for recycling is currently taking place to improve recycling performance so we can ensure collections are effective and efficient.

“This work includes reviewing the kerbside separation of metal and plastic containers, paper and card, and glass to reduce contamination of co-mingled recycling and improve Cardiff’s recycling performance. The new recycling strategy will be unveiled in the autumn.”

Almost a third of what residents in Cardiff put in their recycling is incinerated, it emerged last month. New figures showed 30 per cent of rubbish put in green bags is sent to the Viridor energy-from-waste incinerator.

Cllr Michael previously said this was due to residents putting “incorrect materials” in with their recycling. However, campaigners say high contamination rates are due to ‘co-mingled’ recycling, where everything is put in the same container, such as Cardiff’s green bags.

Instead of co-mingling, neighbouring council areas like Newport and the Vale of Glamorgan sort their recycling into separate containers at the kerb, before it is collected. According to waste charity WRAP, ‘kerbside sort’ reduces contamination rates and can be cheaper to operate.

Mal Williams, of Zero Waste International Trust, said: “As we witness record temperatures, wildfires, floods and other environmental disasters, the capital of Wales should be making an exemplary contribution to reducing carbon emissions. Burning materials that should be recycled is a level of incompetence and mismanagement which is hard to forgive.”

But Cardiff council has said co-mingling is easier for residents, participation is higher, and collection is quicker; while kerbside sorting is slower and can cause traffic congestion as crews have to put each type of material into a separate part of the refuse vehicles.

The council missed its recycling target last year of 64 per cent, according to the recently published Annual Wellbeing Plan, meaning the Welsh government could issue a fine. By 2025, Cardiff’s recycling target will increase to 70 per cent.

A council spokesman said: “While Cardiff produces some of the best recycling figures in the UK for a city of its size, the council is always looking at ways to improve its recycling numbers. Welsh Government has set a statutory recycling target of 70 per cent by 2025 which we are committed to.

“A report is due to come to cabinet later in the year which will lay out how that might be done, taking into account the challenges that a growing city the size of Cardiff faces. A full consultation on any new recycling strategy will then take place.”

After the meeting, Conservative Cllr Lyn Hudson said switching recycling strategies could reduce the amount of waste sent to the incinerator.

She said: “The reason so much of our recycling goes to the incinerator is because of co-mingling. If [kerbside sort] is the answer to co-mingling, it’s an answer to the tonnage of recycling going to the incinerator. It will address that problem.”

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