“Recycling is what we do”. Those were the words of Climate Change Minister Julie James as she set out major steps Wales will take to combat the climate and nature emergencies.
The Minister announced plans to increase the quality and level of recycling from businesses, the public and third sectors in Wales, ensuring they separate key recyclable materials in the same way the majority of Wales’ householders already do.
They will build on the vast improvements Wales has seen in recycling rates thanks to Welsh Government investment of £1bn since devolution.
The results speak for themselves with municipal recycling rates growing exceptionally from just 4.8% in 1998-1999, to more than 65% in 2021-22.
Wales can also be proud that our recycling efforts already make a significant difference to emissions, saving around 400,000 tonnes of CO2 per year from being released into the atmosphere.
Minister for Climate Change, Julie James said:
“Every person in Wales has played their part in increasing our recycling rates exponentially. It has been a real Team Wales approach and recycling is now a part of who we are.
“In the World Cup of recycling, as the third best recycling nation, we’d be a shoo-in for the semi-finals. But taking a page out of Cymru’s book, we want to go further.
“These proposals will deliver significant carbon savings, increase consistency in the way recyclable materials are collected across Wales and bring significant positive benefits for the economy.
“During this cost of living crisis especially, ensuring high quality material can go back into the Welsh economy is a key way in which we can improve the resilience of our domestic supply chains.
“Quite simply, these reforms are a key part of how we can build a stronger, greener economy – creating a more prosperous Wales, now and for future generations.”
Learning from the recycling success to date, the proposals support the Welsh Government’s ‘Beyond Recycling’ ambition which has set a bold target to achieve zero waste in Wales by 2050 by keeping resources in use.
These recycling reforms not only help to move away from single use, but also decrease emissions and improve supply chain resilience, benefiting the economy as well as the environment by turning what was waste into recyclable commodities and reducing the damage to nature and biodiversity caused by the extraction and processing of raw materials.
For individual businesses and organisations, the reforms will help support the move away from waste disposal being a significant cost, to one where that waste material is instead effectively captured and returned into the economy.
The consultations will be open for 12 weeks, closing on Wednesday, February 15 2023.