By Tom Goulding
Wales has confirmed that it has hit its 52% statutory recycling target amid fears that England will fail to meet its own EU set objective by 2020.
And, having reached the milestone, the Welsh Government has decided to waive fines for local authorities that have not met their targets on the basis they participate in the Collaborative Change Programme, which provides councils with specialist advice on recycling.
The Welsh figures, which were published in a municipal waste management report last week (November 14) show the amount of waste the nation has reused, recycled or composted between April 2012 and March 2013.
Provisional estimates for the Welsh data released in August had already indicated the 52% target had been achieved, with quarterly figures also showing Wales had managed to recycle 50% of its waste between January and March this year (see letsrecycle.com story).
The statistics show that there were 1.55 million tonne of municipal waste produced in Wales last year, with 0.8 million tonne prepared for recycling or reuse. Residual municipal waste disposed of via landfill or recovery has continued to fall, currently standing at 0.7 million tonnes a year.
This follows the news that England achieved a recycling rate of 43.2% for 2012/13, seeing an increase of just 0.2% on the previous year, a rate of growth that was described by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs last week as insufficient to meet the 50% EU recycling target, which must be met by 2020 (see letsrecycle.com story).
Welcoming the 52% achievement, the Welsh Governments minister for natural resources and food Alun Davies declared authorities would not be punished for missing targets this year.
He said: Thanks to the efforts of Welsh householders and local authorities, we are now recycling more than half our municipal waste. In the last decade the amount of black bin waste has decreased by more than 50%, which is a significant improvement.
I appreciate that some of the councils that have not met their targets have nevertheless made really good progress. Powys, for example, has increased its recycling by nine percentage points on the previous year and it is this sort of progress that the Collaborative Change Programme can help Councils to achieve.
He added: As a government we will continue to support local authorities as they work with us towards zero waste by 2050.
Joy Blizzard, chair of the Local Authority Recycling Advisory Committee, added: Wales has shown what can be achieved with robust policies and strategies and a Welsh government that seems truly engaged in the role a council can play in a countrys bigger picture.