Monmouthshire council has announced the closure of its Household Waste and Recycling Centre (HWRC) in Usk, in a bid to improve kerbside recycling rates.
In a meeting on Wednesday (7 October), senior councillors voted to close the centre, which was described as the “lowest performing HWRC in Wales”, with a 47.92% recycling rate.
The council said that the decision follows “increased budget challenges” and “positive behavioural changes by the public in managing waste during Covid-19”.
The council explained that 50% of waste taken in at the Usk centre could be “easily be recycled at the kerbside” and added that data collected during the closures of HWRCs in March, showed that reduced access to the sites increased recycling rates locally at the kerbside.
The council added that the covid-19 pandemic has shown that a 70% recycling rate can be achieved when waste was only collected at the kerbside.
In a summary of the meeting, the council said: “There are many who believe visiting the sites several times per week to dispose of black bag and residual waste and not using kerbside recycling options is still acceptable.
“Ease of access, unchallenged use of the residual waste skip, disposal of black bags full of mixed waste undermines the efforts of the vast majority who try to recycle everything they can at the kerbside each week. Future provision needs to offer a wider variety of recycling and reuse options on a smaller number of sites. The majority of recyclable materials have an associated treatment cost.”
” Many believe visiting the sites several times per week to dispose of black bag and residual waste is still acceptable”
The council has also previously said the site is too small to accommodate the full range of recycling facilities that are available at its other sites in Llanfoist and Five Lanes.
It also said there are “very few recycling streams that earn income” at the site, and these tonnages are very small compared to the overall waste tonnages.
Around £30,000 has been estimated in savings for closing the facility, which despite being “relatively small”, the council says the potential fines for missing the recycling targets could be as high as £120,000 for the waste deposited at Usk.
The Welsh government has set a 70% recycling target for Welsh councils by 2024/25 or face fines of £200 per tonne missed.
Monmouthshire recorded a recycling rate of 62% in 2019, below the 64% target set for 2020/21. The decision to close the site followed fears that the council was forecasted to miss this target.
The plans for the closure of the facility began in December 2019, however was placed on hold for 6 months of allow for further consultations.
The decision however, has been met with protests by local residents who believed that poor performance at the Usk site was partly due to reduced opening hours.