Is Wales The Recycling Capital of Europe?
We all know that recycling is important, and that its impact on the world is growing almost daily. That’s why governments are setting out recycling targets, and why councils are promoting the idea of recycling through various schemes up and down the UK – and throughout Europe.
The accolade of being the country with the best recycling record is hotly contested, with many vying for the crown. But the country currently in the running may well surprise you – it’s not France, it’s not Germany, it’s not Spain (all well known for being pioneers of the recycling culture)… It is, in fact, Wales.
Because in Wales, an astonishing 60.2 percent of all waste was recycled in the period 2015-2016 – and this is not only a great figure in itself, but is double what the recycling rate was just 10 years ago. It is also in excess of the Welsh government’s own recycling target of 58 percent. Officials have suggested that if Wales was a single member state rather than part of the UK, they would currently be placed fourth in Europe when it comes to recycling. Welsh eyes are on the prize of being the best, however, and councils across the country are striving to ensure that this happens.
The sudden rise in recycling and the interest in it is being used as a launch pad for the government to push forward with plans for a whopping 64 percent recycling rate by the year 2020, and a staggering 70 percent rate by 2025. And local authorities are now finally understanding that recycling needs to be a priority for them, rather than something that just happens on occasion.
Of course, it is important that momentum lasts on the recycling front – but the Welsh government, the local authorities, and the people of Wales themselves seen convinced that becoming number one in Europe when it comes to recycling is entirely possible, and probable.
One problem that could potentially stand in the way of this noble ideal is that funding has been cut to the implementation and management of the country’s waste strategy. It is hoped, however, that the keenness of the Welsh people and the work of local authorities to promote the idea will offset the lack of funding available.
Other challenges include the fact that not all Welsh areas are as keen as others to recycle. Although 19 out of 22 local authorities either met or exceeded the recycling target in 2015-2016, the others failed to do so. They include Newport (with a 57 percent recycling rate), Torfaen (again, with 57 percent), and Blaenau Gwent (49 percent). However, a new scheme in which the best performing areas (such as Pembrokeshire with 65 percent and Ceredigion with 68 percent) could share resources with those areas that are failing could see an increase. This could include the scheme in Pembrokeshire of a glass collection scheme. This involves a driver and a vehicle specifically driving to collect glass, ensuring that householders separate it from the rest of their rubbish.