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

RECYCLING containers in Torfaen – where the council is trying to avoid the introduction of three weekly bin collections – will only be available from four locations from next week.

The change has come despite the new councillor in charge of waste having spent her first day in the new post trying to calm a potential revolt over the plans – which have sparked anger among the ruling Labour group.

Councillor Sue Morgan was given responsibility for waste and sustainability when leader Anthony Hunt reshuffled his cabinet at the annual general meeting on Tuesday, May 14.

The position is a key post as the council needs to dramatically increase its recycling rate to avoid fines from the Welsh Government and the need to reduce wheelie bin collections to once every three weeks. When a plan to do that was put on hold in April, 2023 Cllr Hunt launched a drive to avoid reduced rubbish collections by increasing recycling and bringing the council into line with the Welsh Government targets.

But councillors have questioned the impact of making it harder to collect recycling boxes, bags and caddies.

Independent councillor Giles Davies, who quit the Labour Party over how it handled the proposals for three weekly rubbish collections last year, said residents Abersychan would no longer have anywhere local to collect a container which have been available at the Noddfa Church and Garnsychan Partnership.

He said: “One of the primary concerns is the potential impact on the council’s ability to achieve the target of recycling 70 percent of waste by 2024/25.

“By decreasing the number of hubs, the council risks making it more difficult for residents to recycle. When individuals’ recycling boxes are damaged or lost, they rely on nearby hubs to obtain replacements.

“This reduction in the number of hubs means residents will have to travel further to collect new recycling boxes, some of this could now end up in general waste.”

From Friday, May 24, residents will be expected to travel to either Blaenavon’s World Heritage Centre, the Civic Centre in Pontypoool, the Household Waste Recycling Centre in New Inn or Cwmbran Library if they need a new or replacement container.

The council has said reducing the hubs where the containers are available will ensure it has a consistent supply and residents with blue badges and on assisted collections will be able to request a home delivery online, or by phone, from May 24, which it says is an improvement on the current service.

There has also been concern at the plans among the Labour group. Rose Seabourne, concillour for Fairwater, wrote to Cllr Morgan and noted “heated debate and comment” just hours after she took up the post.

Cllr Seabourne told Cllr Morgan she was “pleased” she understood there had been a lack of communication with councillors which had denied them the chance to discuss the plans with residents.

The Cwmbran councillor told the Local Democracy Reporting Service she was concerned whether residents would catch a bus into town to collect a container and travel back by bus but said she believed there had been an oversight due to busy period leading up to the council’s annual general meeting.

She said: “I’m sure Cllr Morgan will sort it all.”

In her email Cllr Seabourne said when she had collected containers, for residents, from the Civic Centre there was no monitoring in place.

Cllr Morgan, who represents Pontnewydd, said: ‘The council wants to work with the public and buck the national trend of less frequent collections as the only solution to raising recycling rates.

“Our current data suggests that Torfaen’s Recycling Rate is steadily improving as the result of a variety of measures already introduced such as weekly card collections and new recycling vehicles.”

She added the council has also agreed a plan to further boost recycling, including through trade waste collections, as well as education and enforcement.

She said the current system for collecting containers had been “uncontrollable and inefficient.

“Unfortunately, we are aware of some people using boxes and bags for a variety of purposes for which they are not intended.

“Residents are welcome to provide feedback regarding this change and councillors and officers will review the success of these changes going forward.”

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