Merthyr Tydfil council and Rhondda Cynon Taf council are working together to develop a facility to treat food and residual waste at a site in Bryn Pica and are hoping the centre will help them meet future recycling targets.
The councils are currently working on a shortlist of companies who will be selected to bid for the scheme, and plan to announce the bidders imminently.
The provision of a food waste treatment facility will ensure that the proposed targets set by the Welsh Assembly Government can be met which means that the local authorities effectively remove the risk of facing crippling fines of £200 per tonne
Councillor Aled Roberts, WLGA
The project, named Tomorrow's Valley, or Cwm Yfory, is searching for the most attractive and affordable solution to manage waste in a sustainable manner and divert it from landfill and will include the development of a new unit to treat food and residual waste.
A site at Bryn Pica has been earmarked for the facility and the councils hope it will help them to continue to meet national recycling targets and prevent even more waste from ending up in landfill.
Rhondda Cynon Taf council's deputy leader and cabinet member for Frontline Services, councillor Anthony Christopher, said: “Since 2004 we have radically changed the waste collection service and residents regularly receive positive feedback about initiatives, from kerbside recycling, collections on bank holidays to maintaining a weekly collection provision.
“We currently recycle around 30% of domestic waste and we want to see these figures to continue to increase. We are confident that this new partnership scheme with our colleagues in Merthyr Tydfil, will allow us to rapidly increase food and residual waste recycling, reduce landfill waste and make us a pioneering initiative on the green agenda.”
Both councils are currently meeting their recycling targets for biodegradable materials but there is a need for additional services to ensure targets can also met in the future.
Cllr Aled Roberts, WLGA spokesperson for Environment and chair of Waste Awareness Wales, said that Wales had relied on sending biodegradable waste to landfill for “too long” and praised the councils for demonstrating their commitment to dealing with waste in a “sustainable manner”.
He added: “The provision of a food waste treatment facility will ensure that the proposed targets set by the Welsh Assembly Government can be met which means that the local authorities effectively remove the risk of facing crippling fines of £200 per tonne.”
There is already a recycling facility at Bryn Pica and a composter for garden waste and recyclables are sent on to a variety of re-processors and compost is used on local allotments and land reclaimation schemes.
The councils are considering the options for the left-over residual waste.
As food waste can no longer be legally composted in the open air they are looking at composting in a closed unit (in-vessel composting, IVC) or processing the waste via anaerobic digestion (AD), which will also enable them to produce heat and power, and they are also assessing the best option for treating residual waste.
Cllr Leighton Smart, Merthyr Tydfil cabinet member for Customer Community Services, said: “By working in partnership with Rhondda Cynon Taf with whom we have a strong working relationship, we can aim for a more sustainable long term solution for our waste and move closer towards Welsh Assembly Government targets, providing a better service for our residents and preventing financial penalties being applied.”