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‘No change is not an option’ due to poor recycling rates. Consultation on changes to bin collections in Torfaen starts

RESIDENTS in Torfaen are being asked if they want fortnightly bin rounds replaced with collections once every three weeks or just once a month.

The consultation on reducing the frequency of bin collections, in order to boost recycling, comes amid a likely further blow to Torfaen Borough Council’s efforts to find a long-term solution to storing and sorting its recycling collections.

In February this year, the council’s Labour cabinet agreed to spend £245,397 from reserves to start pre-construction work on revamping the Ty Coch waste transfer station at Cwmbran so that it can handle food waste as well as recycling materials left at the kerbside and collected by council crews.

But in a confidential session of the cabinet’s Tuesday, March 28 meeting the cabinet was told of further delays to the Ty Coch development.

A summary of the confidential report, published by the council, stated it is to advise why the council hasn’t been able to agree a long-term, 20 to 25-year, lease at Ty Coch as it expected to do.

The summary states: “The report sets out options for a way forward which include signing up to a shorter-term lease with the landlord of the Ty Coch facility. This option does attract additional risks which are set out clearly within the report.”

Meanwhile, the council is preparing to reduce the number of times it collects waste from wheelie bins from March next year and has opened a consultation on the changes.

However, residents aren’t being given the opportunity to call for more frequent collections or to maintain the current fortnightly service with the council saying “no change is not an option” due to its poor recycling rates.

The council says the reduction in bin collections, which only apply to non-food waste that can’t be recycled,  will be accompanied by extra changes to the recycling service including:

  • Used batteries recycling from April
  • Weekly cardboard and small electrical items collections from this summer
  • Increased recycling support for residents who live in flats
  • Increased trade waste recycling
  • Increased education and information.

According to the council too much of the waste dumped in the purple-lidded bins should be either recycled or placed in the dedicated brown caddies for food waste that will continue to be collected from the kerbside every week.

Councillor Mandy Owen, the Labour cabinet member for the environment, said the changes are intended to help the council meet Welsh Government recycling targets.

The amount of all waste recycled in Torfaen has been below the current 64 per cent target since 2020, and the council claims it needs to reduce collections or it will miss the 70 per cent target that will come into force in 2024/25.

Cllr Owen said: “We know we need to make improvements to the recycling service as a whole, so we are able to provide a service residents can rely on.

“But the fact of the matter is, no change is not an option. If we fail to meet the Welsh Government’s 70 per cent target by 2025 target, we could face fines of up to £100,000 per percentage missed.

“Increasing recycling is a key part of the council’s climate and nature emergency action plan and our county plan, because it is better for the climate, the environment and future generations.”

A council report estimates reducing purple-lidded collections to once every three weeks would increase recycling rates to 66 per cent, with four weekly collections resulting in recycling rates of 68 per cent.

The purple-lidded bin changes are planned for March 2024 and will be brought in alongside an expansion of the recycling service from this spring which will include used batteries recycling from April, weekly cardboard and small electrical items collections from this summer along with increased recycling support for residents who live in flats and a more trade waste recycling.

Due to the capacity problems at Ty Coch the council is spending £324,000 from its reserves to maintain separate cardboard collections through to September next year despite having bought 19 new refuse lorries, for £2.7 million, which can’t currently be used to collect all waste as intended.

Roadshow events are being held across Torfaen to gather views on the proposed changes and the council will also consult its six citizen panels and five community councils. The consultation, which includes an online survey, will close at 11.59pm on Sunday May 7.

Roadshow events are planned at the following locations and more could be announced via the council’s social media pages and a Facebook Live event is also planned for Friday, April 14 at a time yet to be announced.

  • Wednesday March 29 – Pontypool Indoor Market 10am-3pm
  • Tuesday April 4- Blaenavon Primary Care Centre 10am-3pm
  • Wednesday April 4 – Blaenavon Active Living Centre 5pm-8pm
  • Thursday April 6 – Cwmbran Library 10am-3pm
  • Thursday April 13- Cwmbran Library 10am-3pm
  • Tuesday April 18 – Cwmbran Shopping Centre 10am-3pm
  • Wednesday April 19 – Pontypool Civic Centre 10am-3pm
  • Thursday April 20 – Pontypool Active Living Centre 5pm-8pm
  • Thursday April 27 – Cwmbran Library 10am-3pm
  • Tuesday May 2 – Cwmbran Shopping Centre
  • Thursday May 4 – Cwmbran Stadium 10am-3pm
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‘No change is not an option’ due to poor recycling rates. Consultation on changes to bin collections in Torfaen starts

a purple lidded bin