Councils in Wales reach 60% recycling rate

The average amount of waste recycled by councils in Wales has hit 60% for the first time, according to internal figures published by the Welsh Government today (24 August).

Wales is a country within the United Kingdom and has its own government with some powers handed down from the Westminster government.

Provisional data for 2015/16 shows recycling has grown by 4% on last year’s figure –two percentage points higher than the Welsh Government’s statutory 58% target.

Councils in Wales have provisionally hit a 60% recycling average for the first time

Councils in Wales have provisionally hit a 60% recycling average for the first time

But the amount of municipal waste generated across Wales between January and March 2016 also rose by 12% compared to the same period last year, while the amount of refuse generated per person jumped 10%.

The Welsh recycling figures have in recent years been boosted by a surge in incinerator bottom ash (IBA) recycling – which is counted towards the final rate unlike in England. IBA cannot however be included in the figures returned to the EU or used in the calculation of the UK national recycling rate.

The latest set of figures has seen a huge leap for most councils, with just three of Wales’ 22 local authorities failing to meet the statutory target – Torfaen (57%), Newport (57%) and Blaenau Gwent (49%) – the only council to record a decrease.

A Welsh Government spokesman told that it will not be decided whether the councils will be penalised for failing to meet the target until the figures are finalised in the autumn.

Ceredigion council achieved the highest average rate with 68%, up six percentage points on the previous year. Vale of Glamorgan meanwhile leapt from 56% to 65%, Caerphilly from 55% to 62%, and Merthyr Tydfil from 51% to 62%.

Cardiff city council, historically one of the lowest recycling performers in Wales, meanwhile climbed from an average of 53%to 58%.


Provisional waste arisings look to have soared in some parts of Wales between January and March 2016 compared with the same quarter for the previous year.

The Valley region in particular saw huge growth, with Merthyr Tydfil recording a 50% increase from 7,000 to 11,000 tonnes between the 2015 and 2016 quarters. Bridgend’s arisings rose 51% from 17,000 to 22,000 over the same period.

The amount of residual waste generated also rose across Wales in January to March 2016 compared to the same quarter for the previous year, from 47kg to 51kg per person.


Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths, said: “This is the first year recycling levels have increased beyond the ambitious target of 58%, which is up from the previous year’s target of 52%. The fact these figures not only achieve the target but, in fact, exceed it is highly encouraging, showing we are continually improving our recycling rate.”

“It’s clear that local authorities and householders are working hard to recycle and we are well on the way to achieving our 70% recycling target set for 2025. I am proud that we lead the rest of the UK in our recycling rate but I want us to do even better and become Europe’s best recycling nation.”