Welsh Audit Office highlights tensions between Welsh Government and councils over commingled recycling


A report from the Welsh Audit Office has warned that arguments over the most suitable collection system for recycling in Wales are a “significant barrier” to increasing recycling rates.

Published by the Auditor General for Wales, the report acknowledges that Welsh local authorities have made steady targets in reaching a 43.6 per cent recycling rate.


However, it highlights the difficulties caused by conflicting views between the Welsh Government and local authorities about how best to provide recycling services for the public. It says that while the Welsh Government believes that kerbside recycling and sorting is the most consistent way for producing quality material, this is disputed by some Welsh councils and private sector contractors that believe mechanical sorting of commingled waste at a MRF can produce sufficient quality and at similar cost.

It warns that if disagreement over recyclable waste collection methods continues, there is a risk that it will inhibit further progress in achieving recycling objectives and reduce the momentum of public participation.

The report makes a number of recommendations for improvement including:

  • The Welsh Government and local authorities should work together more effectively to ensure there is an independent performance assessment of methods used for kerbside collection
  • The Welsh Government should clarify, consolidate and better signpost guidance available to local authorities to increase public participation and do more to capture and share good practice
  • The Welsh Government and local authorities should work more closely with the private sector, in particular to steer them towards more sustainable methods of recycling that also offer value for money
  • The Welsh Government, in partnership with local authorities, should develop consistent performance indicators to improve the measurement of public participation.

Auditor General for Wales Huw Vaughan Thomas said: “It is clear that the public are engaging more in recycling waste, and the Welsh Government and local authorities should be commended for their efforts over the last six years to encourage this. But the momentum will be lost unless there is significant change in some areas.

“We need to see better guidance from Welsh Government. Local authorities should get smarter in the way they collect data. And, most importantly, councils and government must work together to build agreement around the best methods of collecting waste.”