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Black bin bags in RCT would be collected every three weeks under new proposals

Black bin bag collections in Rhondda Cynon Taf could be collected every three weeks rather than fortnightly under new proposals unveiled by the council. As part of the proposals set to be considered by cabinet the limit of one black bag a week per household which is currently in place will continue – moving from two bags per fortnight to three bags every three weeks.

The proposals mean that households will be able to put out three black bags every three weeks. The council said that almost a third of councils in Wales already successfully operate three-weekly collections.

The collection of nappy waste, food waste, and clear-bag recycling would continue to be collected weekly, which the authority says should make up almost 80% of weekly household waste. The council said the proposed change is projected to achieve an increase in recycling equal to 2,600 tonnes and would mean a 1.9% increase in the council’s overall recycling rate based on 2021 figures, increasing from 67.48% to 69.38%.

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The council would look to save around £800,000 in running costs and reduce its overall carbon footprint by approximately 100TCO2e (tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent) per year. The council said that any saving achieved would be diverted to safeguard other key services such as social care or education.

The council said that cabinet has previously recognised that unprecedented challenges lie ahead for services across local government due to the ongoing economic impact of Covid-19, Brexit, the conflict in Ukraine, and the cost of living crisis with double-digit inflation and 355% increases in local authority energy prices forecast for next year. It said: “In such circumstances it is vital that the council avoids non-recycling fines by meeting Welsh Government’s recycling targets and supporting Wales’ efforts to become net-zero by 2030.”

The current recycling rate for Rhondda Cynon Taf stands at 67.48% and the council said it must act now to ensure that the council isn’t subjected to large fines of £140,000 for every 1% that it fails to reach. The council said: “This huge sum of money, at an already difficulty time, could result in services being cut or affected in order to pay the fines."

It is estimated that eight out of every 10 black bags that are put out for collection could be recycled and it is thought that this change would help everyone stop and think about every item that is thrown away and whether they can be recycled, the council said. Councillor Ann Crimmings, cabinet member for environment and leisure, said: “We’ve come a very long way over the last decade and that is thanks to our recycling residents and dedicated staff.

“In 2013, when fortnightly collections were introduced, the county borough had a recycling rate of 43.3% and was facing potential fines for not hitting the Welsh Government target of 52% for 2013-14. Today we stand with a 67.4% target – that’s a 24% increase. This shows that the changes we made then, combined with our amazing residents, had the power to help us exceed the current target (the Welsh Government set statutory targets of recycling a minimum of 64% of waste by 2019-20).

“As a consequence of the chancellor’s autumn statement the years ahead could prove to be some of the most financially difficult that we will ever have to face with a potential budget gap of £47m next year, which will increase substantially by 2025-26. The proposed changes would save the council vital funding and help to protect other services whilst still delivering a full weekly recycling service and ensuring that we hit Welsh Government targets and reduce our overall carbon footprint.

“But we must now consider our position to ensure that we reach the next target of 70% by 2024-25 and don’t face substantial fines at an already difficult financial time. Together with my cabinet colleagues and council officers we will be discussing the proposed changes outlined in the report in a bid to avoid these fines, ensure that we meet these targets, safeguard vital services, and reach the goal to become net-zero by 2030.”

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