Wales hits recycling targets a year early

September 25, 2009 at 1:29 pm

Welsh councils have hit their recycling targets for sending waste to landfill a year early. This will mean they will not face European Union financial penalties if they continue to recycle at the same rate next year.

The new EU initiative begins in 2010, and states that the rate of biodegradable waste such as food, cardboard and paper being sent to landfill must be down by 75% compared to 1995 levels. By 2013 this will be reduced by a further 50%, and will go down another 35% by 2020.

During 2008/09, Wales buried just 599,703 tonnes of biodegradable waste in landfill, marking a huge reduction of 154,879 tonnes in just two years. The Welsh Landfill Allowances Scheme allows for 788,000 tonnes to be buried each year, so this amount is 24% lower than the target. But more importantly it is 16% below the 2010 EU allowance, meaning if authorities continue at the same rate then they will not receive the heavy financial penalties for burying too much biodegradable waste.

It marks a huge turnaround for Wales. In 2008, only 11 of the local authorities were looking likely to hit their EU targets. But now they have beaten their targets a year early which is a great success for recycling in the country.

The Welsh Assembly Government has recently provided £24 million in funding for household waste collection and treatment across the country. In total, 18 authorities now have a food waste collection service up and running.

Environment minister, Jane Davidson, said that it was an “excellent achievement”. She said that simply burying waste to rot is something “from another era” and highlighted the possibilities it provided to “generate renewable energy through the use of anaerobic digestion”.

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