Wales Rises to the Recycling Challenge; John Griffiths, Environment and Sustainable Development Minister for Wales, Tells How the Nation Has Embraced Recycling, but There Is Still a Lot of Work to Be Done If Ambitious Targets Are to Be Met
Byline: John Griffiths
TWO years ago we set the people of Wales a challenge - to recycle 52% of their waste by 2012-13, 70% by 2025 and to reach zero waste by 2050.
The people of Wales, supported by their councils, have risen to the challenge and statistics released last week revealed that Welsh councils collectively recycled 53% of their waste in the first quarter of 2012-13.
This means that Wales is now recycling or composting more than half of its municipal waste - this is significant, especially when you consider that 10 years ago Wales was recycling just 12.5% of its waste. I am extremely proud of our achievements.
The statistics also show there has been a two percentage point increase in recycling and composting compared to the same three months in 2011-12.
This means that we are firmly on track to meet our first statutory target, and demonstrates that the hard work by Wales' local authorities is paying off.
With the highest recycling rate of any country in the UK, Wales is leading the way in effective waste management.
Despite our success, we need to keep the momentum going, and continue to work with Wales' local authorities to come up with solutions that work for the people of Wales and ensure our recycling rates continue to rise.
Right across Wales, people are increasingly realising that burying their rubbish in the ground is no longer an option and are choosing more sustainable ways to manage their waste.
I am very grateful to the people across Wales who take a few extra minutes each week to separate out and recycle their waste, rather than throwing everything into the bin. I believe that achieving this significant milestone has largely been the result of the funding support we have provided to local authorities to make improvements to their collection services, and to the way that they have managed this transition so that it works well for people across Wales.
Today, every Welsh council provides a weekly food collection service, which covers nine out of 10 households - this is a significantly higher proportion than elsewhere in the UK.
Separating out food waste from people's rubbish not only diverts a huge amount of waste away from landfill, it also makes us far more aware of the food we are wasting, which often results in reduced waste and lower food bills.
I am delighted that the Welsh public have taken up the system so enthusiastically.
Weekly food waste collections also mean that left-over food is removed from their rubbish bins, and we have found that this is popular with householders as it ensures that there is not a build-up of bad smells.
The weekly food waste and recycling collections also mean that most people's rubbish is collected each week, so there is no need for councils to spend money collecting half-empty black bags every week. …