How Wales became a world leader in recycling
The Welsh Government is working to make Wales a greener, more equal, and more prosperous country.
How we manage our waste and the resources we use has become even more crucial; in the growing fight to tackle climate change. Since Wales has had its own government in 1999, we have become a global leader in recycling. We’re now first in the UK, second in Europe and third in the world for household waste recycling. Put simply, recycling is what we do! This achievement has taken a clear, long term vision, strong partnership working, significant investment and clear milestones along the way.
To celebrate Global Recycling Day (17 March 2020), we explore how Wales and every household in Wales has helped us achieve this.
1. Set statutory recycling targets
The Welsh Government set statutory recycling targets for Local Authorities – this has increased household recycling from 5.2% (1998-99) to globally leading figures of 60.7% (2018-19). Municipal waste recycling rates have also risen from 4.8% to 62.8% during the same period.
2. Encouraged greater recycling
The introduction of a national recycling campaign for Wales, Recycle for Wales, has encouraged consumers to recycle more things, more often from all around the home and other websites like My Recycling Wales provide information on where our recycling goes.
3. Providing over £1 billion since 2000 to help Local Authorities invest in recycling collection services
Wales has robust collection regimes and we have supported the creation of infrastructure here to deal with our recycling. Thirteen out of 22 local authorities currently follow the Welsh Goverenment’s Collections Blueprint. The Blueprint sets out the recommended method of waste collection, to ensure affordable and sustainable collection services for recyclable, compostable and residual waste.
4. Separate weekly food waste collection
99% of households now have a food waste collection service after the Welsh Government introduced specific funding to Local Authorities. Our food waste is then processed to create energy to power homes.
5. Improved facilities at waste recycling centres
Many sites now having handle over 20 different waste streams. Local Authorities in Wales have significantly improved the provision for recycling at their local household waste recycling centres / civic amenity sites. Many now have shops and other enterprises on site which divert materials away from being recycled and allow them to be reused, repaired and sold.
6. Reduction in the frequency of general rubbish collections
By reducing the amount of general rubbish (black bag) collections, households in Wales have been encouraged to recycle more items
7. Expanded recycling collection service
Every Local Authority provides a comprehensive recycling collection service. There are items that are consistently collected across the country such as glass, paper, card, metal cans, and plastic bottles, pots, tubs and trays. Wales has led the way in the UK on this.
8. Introduction of electronic and battery recycling
There are now services in place across Wales to recycle electronic and battery waste. This has increased the overall number of items being recycled.
9. Increase in the number of repair, upcycle and reuse shops
More and more people now donate furniture, electronic goods and other household items to charities to help fund their operations. Many Local Authorities now operate reuse shops at their recycling centres which means less waste is going to landfill.
10. Increased recycling of mattresses
Wales leads the way in the UK on the recycling of mattresses with the Welsh Government funding projects like the Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council mattress recycling scheme.
11. Introduced the carrier bag charge
Wales was the first UK nation to introduce a carrier bag charge, which saw an increase in the number of bags for life used.
But we want to go further, becoming a circular economy and achieving 100% recycling and zero waste by 2050. This is how we will make this ambition a reality.
1. Become a circular economy
Expand on the success of the plastic bag charge and go beyond recycling and keep resources in use for as long as possible. This will help cut carbon emissions and will help Wales meet this goal as a low carbon economy is a circular economy
2. Ban single-use plastics
The Welsh Government has proposed restrictions on the use of unnecessary single-use, hard to recycle and commonly littered plastics, as part of wider efforts to tackle the problem of plastic pollution.
3. Embed recycling in the culture of 21st Century Wales
Make recycling what everyone in Wales does whether they live, work or visit! We will emphasize that Wales can’t throw its future away and recycling is necessary to tackle the climate emergency by calling on the Welsh public to Recycle.
Latest News from
Chief Medical Officer statement on 21 day review: 28 May 202002/06/2020 14:05:00
Advice provided to Welsh Ministers about the 21 day review of coronavirus restrictions by Frank Atherton, Chief Medical Officer for Wales.
Time to say thanks to the volunteers supporting communities across Wales01/06/2020 16:05:00
As Volunteers’ Week begins today, Welsh Government is saying thank you to the thousands of volunteers of all ages including young people who are working so hard to support communities across Wales.
Contact tracing system for Wales rolled-out01/06/2020 14:05:00
A population-wide contact tracing system is being rolled out across Wales as lockdown restrictions are eased, Health Minister Vaughan Gething has announced.
Up to £65 million set aside to keep Wales’ railway running01/06/2020 11:05:00
Welsh Government has announced it will spend up to £65 million over the next 6 months to ensure train services continue to operate on the Wales and Borders network for key workers and others that rely on the train to travel.
Education Minister’s ‘deep concern’ over UK government’s student number controls proposals01/06/2020 09:33:00
Education Minister Kirsty Williams recently (29 May 2020) wrote to the Minister of State for Universities expressing a ‘deep concern’ over plans to announce the UK government’s intention to introduce temporary student number controls in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Shielding people can meet others and exercise outdoors31/05/2020 09:05:00
Changes to advice for people shielding from coronavirus are being introduced from Monday 1 June, Minister for Health and Social Services Vaughan Gething has announced today.
Stay local to keep Wales safe: changes to the lockdown announced29/05/2020 13:25:00
Plans to allow family and friends to meet outside have been unveiled by First Minister Mark Drakeford as the strict stay-at-home coronavirus (COVID-19) regulations are eased in Wales.
Wales' critical care for coronavirus in numbers29/05/2020 09:05:00
Critical care has played a crucial – and often life-saving – role in the treatment of people who have been seriously ill after contracting coronavirus in Wales.
Welsh Government announce new £20 million fund to transform homelessness services and ensure no-one need return to rough sleeping28/05/2020 14:05:00
Housing and Local Government Minister Julie James has announced new funding of up to £20 million to help ensure that no-one in emergency shelter during the coronavirus crisis has to return to the streets or unsuitable accommodation.