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Councillors check on recycling and waste performance

Councillors have been scrutinising Bridgend County Borough Council’s recycling service today, hearing how local residents have helped the local authority go from 21st place to the second best for recycling in Wales in just one year.

The way that residents have embraced the fortnightly waste limits that were brought in last summer has transformed the county borough’s recycling rate from 57.9 per cent to 68.61 per cent.

Only the Isle of Anglesey County Council are currently recycling more household waste in Wales, posting the leading recycling rate of 72.19 per cent.

The improvement in Bridgend County Borough has certainly been impressive, but as some pockets of residents have experienced problems with their recycling and waste collections over the last year, councillors who sit on the Overview and Scrutiny Committee asked for an update on the overall situation to be presented at their meeting on Monday 17 September.

Elected members heard that, as well as the recycling rate rising, the overall service has also improved to the extent that the number of complaints lodged by residents each month is now actually lower than it was before the new arrangements were introduced in June 2017.

The council and its recycling partners Kier have taken a number of measures to provide a more consistent service for residents. New collection vehicles have made a positive impact as they have more capacity for plastics and cardboard, while Kier’s ‘Tor2’ customer contact centre has measurably improved to meet contractual performance levels. The contact centre based in Torquay handles all telephone calls, emails and online requests regarding Bridgend County Borough resident’s recycling and waste collections.

We always said that we expected teething problems as the new arrangements bedded in, but we’ve gradually worked through those and are pleased with the overall current performance. While some isolated challenges to the service occur from time to time, any persistent problem spots are being addressed as soon as possible.

Councillor Hywel Williams, the council's Deputy Leader

At the scrutiny meeting, councillors also heard about plans for the future. They were told that webcams will soon be installed at the Community Recycling Centres in Maesteg and Brynmenyn so that residents can take a look to see how busy the sites are before deciding whether or not to visit.

Councillors were also informed that plans to add black plastic and film to the range of plastics that households can recycle at the kerbside have been put on hold due to uncertainty in global recycling markets.

Following decisions by China and some other Far East countries such as Malaysia and Taiwan to ban imports of household waste plastic, the global market for plastics has changed significantly. Plastic recyclers are prioritising quality more than ever, with mixed plastic bottles seen as the most in-demand item for recycling, while film and black plastic is less desired.

As a result, it is felt to be the wrong time and too risky for Bridgend County Borough Council to change its current plastic collections. However, the option will be kept under review.

The report also confirmed that the number of fly tipping reports has increased since June 2017.

Councillor Williams said: “When we introduced the waste limits last year we were prepared for the possibility of some lazy residents not going to the trouble of recycling their waste and instead dumping their rubbish.

“It’s extremely frustrating that a small percentage of people still can’t be bothered to recycle when we have made it easier than ever to recycle a broad range of materials at the kerbside, or take them to a Community Recycling Centre, or arrange a bulky waste collection.

“It is going to take time, but our duty is to continue to raise awareness of how local residents can recycle their waste, gradually make it the norm in all of our households, and be tough on fly tippers.

“We work hard to identify fly tipping culprits and can fine them for their selfish, irresponsible behaviour. If you ever witness any fly tipping, please report it to us.”

To find out more about recycling in Bridgend County Borough, please visit the Recycle for Bridgend website

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