THE way rubbish is collected from the kerbside in Carmarthenshire could be in for a major overhaul.
The council said a lot of recyclable waste was being put into black bags and that some recyclable waste in blue bags was rejected by processors because it hadn’t been washed or was the wrong sort of material.
It was also taking longer to pick up blue bag recyclable waste than it used to, meaning streets or even whole communities not having it collected on the proper day.
Council chiefs are worried about missing Wales-wide recycling targets, which rise from 64% to 70% in 2024-25, and feel the current system is no longer fit for purpose.
One option being put forward is a weekly collection of recyclables like cardboard, plastic and cans, starting in 2022, replacing the current fortnightly service.
Food waste would be picked up every week, like now, but black bags would be collected every three weeks instead of two, with householders only able to put out a maximum of three full bags. The current limit is three bags per fortnight.
Glass would also be collected with the black bags, instead of householders having to take their bottles and jars to local glass collection sites.
A further change could then come into force in 2024. This would require householders to store four recycling boxes at home and separate their recyclable waste before putting the boxes out once a week for collection.
Refuse collectors would empty the boxes, which would include glass products and food waste, into special compartments on their lorries – but contaminated products would be left in the boxes. The three-weekly black bag collection would continue.
Councillors on Carmarthnenshire’s environmental and public protection scrutiny committee were told at a meeting that the authority was extremely keen to get the public onside and that a consultation would take place before any changes were made.
Addressing the committee, the council’s environmental services manager, Dan John, said: “We really need to design a service which minimises contamination at the kerbside.”
Also there to answer questions was Cllr Hazel Evans, executive board member for environment, who said the “weekly kerb sort” option with the boxes was used by nine out of the 10 councils in Wales with the best recycling rates.
She said she had been sceptical about the “weekly kerb sort” system but had changed her mind after speaking to other councils about it.
“I was the most sceptical, but I am converted,” she said.
Another benefit is that the “weekly kerb sort” system could attract Welsh Government funding, whereas other options couldn’t. It would also deliver the best savings on carbon emissions.
Carmarthenshire Council’s recycling figure in 2019-20 was 64.66%, narrowly eclipsing the 64% target. Councils which miss the target can get fined £200 per tonne of waste, which would land Carmarthenshire with a £164,000 bill for every 1% missed.
Committee members asked how dog and cat owners were supposed to store black bags with their pets’ mess in it for up to three weeks, what would happen to the current local glass collection sites, how much longer the “weekly kerb sort” option took longer than currently and what impact that might have on traffic.
Council officers said they would ask other authorities which collected black bags every three weeks about the dog and cat mess issue.
They also said most glass collection sites would close once glass was collected at the kerbside.
Officers said the “weekly kerb sort” system was a slower system than currently, but that built-up areas and busy commuter roads could potentially be avoided at peak times to avoid long hold-ups.
Mr John said the frequency of black bag collections had a significant impact on how much recyclable products householders put out.
“All the authorities that have moved to three-week collections (of black bags) have seen the biggest increases in recycling,” he said.
The committee noted the report, which will be considered by the executive board and full council in due course.