New recycling vehicle fleet agreed to help increase the city’s recycling rate


A recycling trial - which has seen 10,000 homes across Cardiff separate their recyclable waste at the kerbside - has proven so effective that the Council is looking to buy 9 specially designed trucks to collect glass separately so the scheme can be rolled out across the city. 

The Council will also be introducing RCV's with dual compartments to enable recycling streams to be collected separately, replacing the existing single compartment vehicles.

Residents who took part in the recycling pilot were given reusable red and blue sacks to separate their recycling into, with plastic, tin and metals going into red sacks, and paper and cardboard into blue sacks. Residents in the trial areas were already using a separate container for glass jars and bottles.

The results, when compared with the rest of the city where residents put all recyclables into green plastic bags, were startling. The contamination rate - items that are put out for recycling but cannot be recycled - reduced from 30% to approximately 6%.

Cllr Caro Wild, Cabinet Member for Climate Change at Cardiff Council, said: "Asking residents to separate their recyclables at the kerbside has proven to be a remarkably effective ways of reducing contamination and producing better quality recyclable material. In parts of the city where people put all their recycling into green plastic bags we find lots of stuff in there which can't be recycled like food waste and nappies. Items that affect the quality of the recyclables we collect.

"The pilot scheme has done brilliantly at eliminating a lot of these issues, so much so, we want to look at rolling the scheme out across the city and from November we will look to bring another 40,000 homes onto the scheme, which is fantastic because we know people really care about the environment and really want to do everything they can to make a difference. This new way of preparing recyclables in separate containers for collection will also help make a difference to the city's recycling targets, pushing us closer to that Welsh Government target where 70% of all our waste collected at the kerbside will be recyclable by 2025. The more work we do together on this then the more waste we will reduce, reuse and recycle."

Now that Cardiff Council's Cabinet has approved the procurement at its meeting on 13 July, the council will start the tender process to invest £9.7m of capital funding as part of their fleet replacement programme. Then over a 3-year period the new three-bag recycling collection system will be rolled out to residents across the city.

The current fleet of recycling vehicles that the council is using were procured through a contract hire agreement in 2013/14 and the agreement came to an end in 2019. Since then, in 2021/22, the council replaced some vehicles which collect both garden waste and general (black bag) waste but the procurement of vehicles to collect food waste and glass was put on hold until the Cardiff's new Waste Strategy was approved.

The following specification of vehicles are proposed for the new fleet:

1)     Split back RCV's for ‘tins and plastics' and ‘paper and card'. This is a refuse collection vehicle that has two collection chambers at the back of the vehicle for this recycled waste.

2)     Top loader vehicles for glass that have an interior to reduce the level of noise when the glass is put into the top of the vehicle.

3)     Top loader vehicles with a plastic interior for the collection of food waste.

The Council is committed to transitioning towards a clean fleet and reduce the reliance on diesel vehicles. The Council will look to procure an additional 20 electric flatbed transit vehicles for cleansing operations next year, as we continue to operate the largest fleet of electric RCV's in Wales, and further development of charging infrastructure will allow us to expand our fleet even further in the future.

To ensure there is flexibility in the procurement, some vehicles will be purchased, and some will be leased. This will allow the Council to have the flexibility to move away from diesel engines when conditions allow.

All of the vehicles that will be purchased will have the latest Diesel Euro V1 engines, significantly reducing the levels of particulates and Nitrogen Dioxide emissions compared to the current fleet.