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Fining residents is ‘last option’ as cabinet agrees plan to get Torfaen residents to recycle more

blue cardboard bag
Cardboard can now be recycled every week in Torfaen

Work has started on a policy that could see Torfaen residents fined if they don’t recycle their household waste.

But enforcement action will be the “last option” as the council’s cabinet set out a range of measures to increase recycling in the county. The council’s cabinet met earlier this week and agreed to scrap a £2m Welsh Government-funded project to upgrade the Ty Coch waste transfer station in Llantarnam.

It was part of a set of measures to boost the recycling rate to 70% by 2025 and avoid being fined by the government. The 64% target for 2022/23 was missed and the council is waiting to see if it will be fined.

At the same meeting, a report showed that waste experts had analysed the contents of residents’ purple-lidded bins and found out that 62% of what was in them could be recycled.

Mark Thomas, the council’s deputy environment director, told the cabinet that waste and recycling lorries would have ‘dashboards’ to collect dates on the “productivity” of teams and give  “insights into the behaviour of residents on rounds.”

The ‘road map’ to help and encourage residents to recycle more includes increasing the amount of items that can be taken to the Household Waste Recycling Centre in New Inn. The council’s weekly kerbside collection service will be expanded so residents can put more items in their black boxes such as small electrical items and stretchy plastic.

Officers want to have the power to fine residents who put items in the wrong bags, bins or boxes. The report includes a section on ‘enforcement’. It says:

However if sufficient progress is not being achieved, despite all the above being introduced it is proposed that permission is granted for officers to develop an Enforcement Policy. Officers do not want to wait until summer 2024 to commence this work and delay implementation should it be needed.

Through the previous consultation in early 2023 some residents were in support of enforcement for those who they felt were not recycling as well as they could. Introducing a further “stick” to all the carrots outlined in this report to encourage recycling will enable the Council to be fully confident that when the time comes to review the impact of Raise the Rate in early 2025 it can be confident that all measures have been used (if needed) to increase recycling.

Cllr Mandy Owen, executive member for the environment, said that enforcement would be a “last option” and the focus would be on educating residents, knocking on doors to have conversations and “trying everything before enforcement.”

Cllr Sue Morgan, executive member for resources, said that there should be more emphasis on encouraging residents to reduce and reuse their waste, not just trying to get more waste recycled.

The cabinet agreed a number of recommendations including one to allow staff to work on developing an enforcement policy. 

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Fining residents is ‘last option’ as cabinet agrees plan to get Torfaen residents to recycle more