A Torfaen council issued brown food waste caddy and recycling placed on the kerbside for collection
A Torfaen council issued brown food waste caddy and recycling placed on the kerbside for collection in Pontypool. : Credit: LDRS

A COUNCIL that planned cutting bin collections to once every three weeks will spend up to £132,000 on a new appointment to boost recycling rates. 

The successful candidate will be responsible for developing a new recycling transfer station which is considered vital to increasing the amount of waste sent for reuse. 

Torfaen Borough Council had outlined plans in early 2023 to reduce its collections of non-recyclable household waste from fortnightly to once every three weeks to try and boost its recycling rate. 

But a backlash forced council leader Anthony Hunt to put three weekly collections of wheelie bins on hold and he promised to redouble efforts on getting more residents to recycle. 

The latest step is to establish a new recycling transfer station at the council’s current household recycling centre in New Inn, Pontypool.  

Cllr Hunt has agreed to release up to £132,000 from the council’s reserves to cover the cost of appointing a project manager to oversee its development. 

The decision follows the council having concluded, last year, its plan to upgrade the existing Ty Coch waste transfer station in Llantarnam, Cwmbran, so recycling could be sorted and stored ready to be sent off-site to processors, wasn’t viable. 

That was despite it having already been awarded £2 million from the Welsh Government for the overhaul it had agreed in 2022. 

The failure to put in a place a transfer station capable of sorting and storing recyclable waste has been a significant factor in the council’s struggles to increase the amount of waste it recycles. 

It is required by law to recycle 70 per cent of waste collected this current financial year but in 2022/23 it only managed to achieve a 59 per cent recycling rate – which prompted the plan for reduced wheelie bin collections. 

Figures for 2023/24 haven’t yet been ratified by Natural Resources Wales but they indicate last year’s 64 per cent target was achieved. 

However the council still has to hit the new rate as it could face hefty fines from the Welsh Government for failing to do so. 

A report for Cllr Hunt, outlining the need to appoint a project manager, stated the council must find a new transfer station “urgently” with its lease at Ty Coch due to expire in March 2027. 

The report stated Ty Coch doesn’t meet the council’s future needs and it would require significant investment with New Inn identified as the “most viable option for the relocation” of the transfer station. 

It stated: “The waste team do not have the staff with the relevant skills / qualifications or capacity to manage this project. There is also a lack of capacity internally within the property services team to assisted and therefore it is proposed that the service of a full-time project manager is secured.” 

The council’s waste and recycling services has struggled in recent years to control its budget and last year contributed to a £1.26m overspend in its directorate due to additional costs running waste and recycling services and the need for additional vehicles and crews. 

Torfaen has struggled to meet recycling targets since the pandemic. In 2019/20 it recycled 64 per cent of its waste but that dropped to 62 per cent between 2020 and 2022. 

Food waste which is collected weekly in separate bins counts towards the recycling target but the council has said too much of it has been placed with residual, or non-recylable, waste that is only collected fortnightly. 

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