Ash adds 5.5% to Welsh recycling rate

EXCLUSIVE: The Welsh Government has reported a recycling rate of 63.8% across Wales for 2016/17, with 5.5% coming from incinerator bottom ash (IBA) recycling.

Annual figures published last week (19 October), show the average combined reuse, recycling and composting rate across Wales’ 22 local authorities in 2016/17 was 63.8% out of 1.58 million tonnes of waste.

recycling rate
The Welsh Government has reported a recycling rate of 63.8% across Wales for 2016/17

The Welsh Government said this is an increase of 4 percentage points of last year’s final figure and is near to 6 percentage points higher than the Welsh Statutory Recycling Target of 58%.


The Welsh figure of 63.8% includes the reuse of IBA into concrete which is counted towards the final rate.

IBA cannot however be included in the figures returned to the EU or used in the calculation of the UK national recycling rate and is not used by English local authorities.

According to the Welsh Government 88,230 tonnes of IBA was claimed as recycled by Welsh local authorities in 2016/17. This accounts for 5.5% of the 63.8% recycling rate.

This means the recycling rate, using similar counting methods as in England is 58.3% (excluding IBA). The English rate for 2015/16 was 43%. The latest English figures are expected next month.

Speaking at the annual LARAC recycling officers conference earlier this month, DEFRA recycling minister Therese Coffey said she was aware that some English councils would like IBA recycling figures included in their rates. But she commented that the EU had said UK was the only country enquiring about this and she seemed to imply that statutory change to include IBA was unlikely.


Local authorities

In terms of local authorities, the Welsh Government’s published statistics show Ceredigion county council retained the highest recycling rate last year. The council’s recycling rate for 2016/17 was 70.1%, compared with 68.1% the previous year.

Blaenau Gwent had the lowest rate of Welsh local authorities in 2016/17 (56.8 per cent), followed by Bridgend (57.9%) and Cardiff (58.1 per cent).

Flintshire increased its reuse/recycling/composting rate by 9.7 percentage points during the latest year; the highest increase of all local authorities.

Only two local authorities reported lower rates than in 2015-16. Cardiff’s rate fell by 0.1 percentage points, whilst Bridgend dropped by 1.1 percentage points.

The total amount of municipal waste generated in Wales fell slightly to 1,588 thousand tonnes from 1,592 in 2015/16.


The amount of waste disposed of in landfill continued to fall in 2016/17, decreasing by 48% compared to the previous year, to 151,000 tonnes. In comparison, local authority municipal waste disposed of via incineration increased during 2016/17, reaching 25% of management methods.

When contacted by, the Welsh Government said approximately 56% of incinerated waste is incinerated in Wales and 44% incinerated outside of Wales.

recycling rate
Ceredigion council’s recycling van which attends roadshows and local events

Welcoming the statistics, the cabinet secretary for the environment and rural affairs, Lesley Griffiths said: “Wales leads the way in the UK when it comes to recycling, with these latest figures confirming we are exceeding our ambitious 58% target. It is also encouraging to see Ceredigion has already met our 2025 target of 70%.”


Other figures showed the amount of biodegradable municipal waste Welsh local authorities are sending to landfill has reduced by 89% since the first full year of the scheme in 2005/06.

Authorities sent 90,827 tonnes of biodegradable waste to landfill in 2016-17, 77% less than the legal allowance of 390,000 tonnes. All 22 Local Authorities achieved their individual allocated allowance.

Related links

Municipal waste management report



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