Efforts by residents in Swansea to recycle plastic has led to increased opportunities with UK based recycling companies for the materials collected from streets in the city.
Swansea Council has continued its roll out of reusable pink bags across the city, calling on residents to only put out loose bottles, pots, tubs and trays in the bags.
The work undertaken to ensure the quality of plastic improves has also led to the Council receiving an income from recycling processors for each tonne collected, rather than having to pay for it to be recycled.
Mark Thomas, Cabinet Member for Environment and Infrastructure Management, said:
“The efforts by residents in Swansea, who are doing what we have asked, has led to a huge step forward in terms of the quality of plastic we have collected.
“Our aim is to ensure that the plastic we collect from the kerb is a high enough quality to be of interest to plastic recycling processors in the UK.
“In the past, plastic collected in Swansea has been shipped to other countries because companies in this country would not accept it. This was down to the quality and the fact that it was contaminated with items that were either not recyclable or just poor quality.”
The Council has taken a tougher stance in recent weeks by not collecting plastic if it was contaminated with flimsy plastic such as crisp packets, film lids or bags or hard plastic such as toys or garden furniture and has asked residents to ensure only certain items are placed out for collection.
Cllr Thomas added:
“We have issued information in the past on leaflets and on the re-useable bags themselves, highlighting what processors want and don't want, but in some cases residents have still been contaminating the plastics bottles, tubs, and trays with flimsy plastics such as carrier bags, film lids, and crisp packets.
“We are now having to leave behind material in plastic bags or contaminated with flimsy plastic or toys to ensure residents are getting the message and it has helped us achieve what is needed – which is better quality materials that are being recycled in this country.
“I'm confident that this is what residents want to see and it's something we all benefit from financially and environmentally.”
The latest recycling stats show that in 2017/18 a total of 4,631 tonnes of plastic was collected and diverted from landfill for recycling .
More recently the Council has launched its ‘Keep it out' campaign, encouraging households to recycle household waste and avoid putting it in black bags.
All Councils in Wales must recycle 64% of household waste collected by 2020. Swansea is currently recycling around 62%.
Cllr Thomas added:
“Residents already recycling have helped us achieve our current rate. Our surveys tell us that 4 in 5 residents are participating in the kerbside recycling service. Our latest campaign will help bring the remaining residents who currently recycle nothing or very little on board so we can meet the Welsh Government targets.”