Quality of recycling in Cardiff increasing significantly due to the new recycling scheme

The latest roll out of the new ‘sack sort’ recycling scheme to 37,000 properties across Cardiff has resulted in a significant improvement in the quality of recycling collected from residents’ homes, Cardiff Council can reveal.

After running the scheme for six weeks the council’s latest household recycling figures show that around 92% of waste collected from residents’ homes via the new system can be recycled. Under the co-mingled green bag collection scheme only 70% of material collected is able to be recycled, via our internal processes.

The rollout is producing similar figures to the pilot project which took place last year showing the scheme’s clear value when it comes to improving the quality of the recycling collected.

A spokesperson for Cardiff Council said: “The figures we are seeing are making a big difference and we want to take this opportunity to thank residents for getting on board with the scheme and adapting to it so quickly. The figures right now show a significant and continuous improvement compared with the co-mingled (green bag) collection system.

“Residents are doing a brilliant job. Separating recyclables into different streams is leading to less contamination. Thirty per cent of what we pick up in the co-mingled, green, plastic bags is unrecyclable. In many instances those bags would contain food waste or dirty nappies among other things, causing a nuisance to our staff, costing the council further money to incinerate the non-recyclable waste, and creating issues with animals and birds breaking open bags on the street. The new system makes it harder for animals and birds to break open the sacks, but the fact they contain less food waste than we were finding in green bags is also helping fix this problem. The scheme is working and will help us get closer to achieving Welsh Government’s recycling targetsand will reduce the environmental impacts relating to the carbon emissions of producing new raw materials.

The new ‘sack sort’ recycling scheme is Welsh Government’s preferred way for local authorities to collect recycling from residents’ homes. It is designed to increase the quality of the city’s recycling and to meet the challenging recycling and composting targets that are set in law.

Cardiff’s recycling and composting rate must reach 70% by 2025, and zero waste by 2050, targets outlined in Welsh Government’s Towards Zero Waste Strategy. The recycling rate in Cardiff – including all streams - is currently 62%.

47,000 properties in Cardiff now use this new service (10,000 took part in last year’s pilot), and plans are in place to roll the scheme out across Cardiff in 2024 to a further 80,000 plus homes. Those living in flats will receive smaller sacks, as part of the scheme, so it is more manageable in a smaller home. Collections from flats using communal bins remain unchanged.

Under the new scheme residents are given:

·       A blue caddy for glass bottles and jars,

·       A red sack for metals, tins, aerosols, foil, plastic bottles, pots, tubs and tetra packs, and

·       A blue sack for paper and cardboard.

Residents can have a number of sacks to recycle their waste, as there is no restriction on how much recycling residents are able to present. Sacks were chosen over plastic boxes – which are used in some parts of Wales – in recognition that many properties in Cardiff won’t have gardens, so the sacks can be folded down when not in use. They are also easier for residents and waste crews to lift. Extra weight has been added to reduce the risk of sacks being blown away by the wind, but replacement sacks can be ordered via the App, or collected at some Hubs.

To collect the ‘sack sort’ recyclables, new waste vehicles are being used which have two separate chambers at the back of the vehicle. The recycling from the blue sack goes into one side of the vehicle and the recycling from the red sack goes into the other. A separate vehicle is being used to collect the glass jars and bottles.

There have been times when general waste vehicles have been used to collect these streams together. This happens when there have been issues with new vehicles – for example breakdowns. However, we want to assure residents this does not have a material impact on the recycling collected and the reason for this is twofold.

1. Residents have already ensured that the recyclables being collected are of a high quality and the material collected in sacks/bottle bins is not being mixed with green bag recyclables.

2. They are being brought back to the council’s Materials Recycling Facility at Lamby Way, which separates the material by size and weight, delivering the same quality recyclables as those which would have been collected in the twin chambered vehicles.

The council is in the process of buying more of these vehicles as the rollout goes on.