I put a boxful of empty Tetra Paks out in the kerbside recycling collection this morning for the first time, thereby reducing the rubbish in our landfill-bound black bin bags (mainly apple and orange juice cartons in our case).
Towards the end of last year (week commencing 19 Sept), the Vale of Glamorgan Council introduced co-mingling. It sounds a little tautological and slightly suggestive, but actually involves the mixing of dry household waste for recycling. The decision at first sounded like it might be a step backwards, especially to those who are in the habit of separating recycling (and have the luxury of enough space to do so). However, the decision to opt for co-mingling was the correct way forward. There was a 43% increase in household waste being recycled in the first seven weeks of co-mingling being introduced in the Vale of Glamorgan.
More waste is being put out by existing recyclers (a relatively high 76% of Vale residents were already recycling when co-mingling was introduced), while more people now recycle because it is easier to do so. Instead of alternate weeks for, say, plastics and newspaper, everything is now collected every week.
Co-mingling has also opened the way for further products to be added to recycling boxes. In addition to Tetra Paks (e.g., fruit juice, soup, milk and other waxed cartons), drained aerosols and clean aluminium foil are now also collected weekly in the kerbside collection, along with plastic, glass, food and drink cans, paper and cardboard. This material is sorted by staff at Biffa’s materials recycling facility in Cardiff, so make sure your recycling is washed before it is put out for collection to make their job more pleasant.
Kitchen waste is collected weekly in the Vale from special lidded green food-waste bins. The bio-degradable bags to use in the associated kitchen caddies are available in libraries and other Council buildings. The food waste we would rather not compost ourselves goes into our kitchen caddie. The success of the kitchen waste scheme, which was introduced last year, has led to the company responsible, Cowbridge Compost Ltd, announcing that it will be starting a free compost scheme from April 2012. Compost made from the Vale’s recycled kitchen waste will be free to those who show up at their Cowbridge depot with their own shovels and containers.
Garden refuse is collected fortnightly for most of the year (by request from December to April), on alternate weeks to the black bin bag collection.
The co-mingling of dry household waste is helping the Vale Council meet ambitious Welsh Government recycling targets, which form part of Wales’ Toward Zero Waste strategy. It is also helping the Council reduce its considerable long-term landfill costs.
An indication of how high landfill costs have become can be gleaned from Cardiff Council’s decision to photograph the number plates of all the cars using their main recycling facility. If your number plate does not match the Cardiff resident's database then you will be fined (worth bearing in mind if you live in the Vale and are planning on helping someone from Cardiff move stuff to their local recycling centre). In the Vale, a brand-new Household Waste Recycling Facility opened in autumn 2011 on the Atlantic Trading Estate in Barry.
So, "well done” to the Vale of Glamorgan Council for being on the ball when it comes to household waste management.