Vale of Glamorgan Council Deputy Leader Lis Burnett has praised residents for embracing changes to recycling collections after tens of thousands of blue bags and boxes were handed out in just a few days.
In a bid to combat the problem of contamination and reduce the amount of single-use plastic being collected, soon recycling will only be accepted if it is placed in these Council-issue containers.
That is because a small minority of people have been including non-recyclable items such as soiled nappies, cat litter and food waste in their recycling.
This can have a significant environmental impact with whole lorry loads of recycling being rejected at the processing centre and having to be treated as black bag waste.
The Council’s reusable blue bags and boxes help tackle this problem and also cut down on the amount of single-use plastic to be disposed of as previously residents were using items such as supermarket bin liners for their recycling.
Speaking to Bro Radio, Cllr Burnett said: “The way people have responded has been absolutely amazing. There has already been a massive impact. There are an awful lot fewer non-recyclable plastic bags being used and I’d like to thank people for their efforts.
“It’s quite stunning when you think of the figures. By lunchtime on Tuesday we’d given out around 20,000 blue bags, that means there are 20,000 fewer plastic bags to be disposed of every week. That’s a phenomenal number and will have a major impact.
“But at the moment, that’s a secondary benefit. The first point is to address the issue of contamination so that our recycling can be recycled.
“When recycling reaches the depot that sorts it, there were a lot of things in there that shouldn’t have been. We were getting to a stage where up to a third of all recycling was being rejected at the sorting depot.
“When the waste goes to the depot, they take a sample of the waste on that lorry and if there is a high level of contamination, they’ll reject the whole lot.
“That’s not good when people have spent an awful lot of time sorting out their recycling, but it’s also not good for the environment and is costing tax payers money. The issue became urgent and we had to bring forward the plan to make these changes.”
For the time being, waste will continue to be collected as before, but soon recycling will have to be placed in Council-issue blue bags and boxes in order to be accepted.
They are available free of charge from the Alps Depot in Wenvoe the Civic Offices during August. This month bags can also be obtained from Barry, Penarth, Llantwit Major and Cowbridge libraries.
Residents will still be able to place out two black bags of rubbish every fortnight, with a greater allowance permitted in certain circumstances.
“I apologise for any confusion, but we need to stress the urgency of this issue,” added Cllr Burnett.
“Our biggest challenge has been to keep the distribution points stocked. We have teams constantly driving around the distribution points restocking them and we will continue doing that until we’re confident everyone has had an opportunity to get the bags they need.
“All the blue bags and green boxes are free of charge, so get what you need as far as they’re concerned, and black bag rubbish isn’t affected. If you have got pets or a large family, for instance, get in touch and you can get an extra allowance of purple bags. Then recycling either goes in a food waste bin, Council blue bags or green boxes.
“We’ve also been making food waste boxes available and people have been taking those saying they’ve never recycled food waste before. That’s another positive to this.
“We will not implement the wholesale change until we are satisfied we have been able to get the recycling bags and boxes to everyone that needs them.
“What we’d say is don’t panic. Don’t make a special trip, there will be enough for everybody. If you want to leave it until next week when the rush has died down, that might be a lot easier.”
More information on the changes and how to get blue bags and boxes is available on the Council website.
Nathan is the Operations Director and one half of Vale Breakfast on Bro Radio. You'll hear him reading local news, hosting at local events and presenting our facebook live videos.