Recycling Policy in Wales

Apr 13, 2017 | Articles, Assembly Business, Assembly Issues | 0 comments

Plenary Tuesday 14 March 2017

17:22:43

Spoken Contribution – 17:22:43
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Thank you—diolch, Lywydd. I move the amendments tabled in the name of David Rowlands. We don’t support the Government today because we do have profound doubts over where they are going with their recycling policies and what the effect will be on householders.

We do support the Plaid amendment 5, but we will be abstaining on Plaid’s amendment 2, relating to the deposit-return scheme. This does seem to be a good idea in principle, but we believe that it needs further development, and there are some specific areas that would need to be addressed. For instance, how would it operate in the border areas, relating to the Wales-England border? In addition, the deposit-return schemes would place a considerable burden, potentially, on retailers, particularly small convenience stores. Indeed, the Association of Convenience Stores are concerned about various issues, including space for storage of returned containers, in-store delays and staff costs whilst handling returns, the cost of setting up the scheme initially, and the cost of transporting returned containers to waste-handling sites.

So, we are interested in a deposit-return scheme, but we would like those points to be addressed if the Government is going to go along with it, or perhaps from Plaid we will get some more details on those points. We will support the Welsh Conservative amendment 3.

Returning to our own position, the Government’s performance in meeting recycling targets is, in itself, very good, but we are worried by the apparent connection between pushing for zero waste by reducing waste collections and an increase in fly-tipping incidents. To relate recent incidents of that, in Conwy, there is currently a trial of four-weekly waste collections in part of the county borough; the rest of the borough is having three-weekly collections. Over the past two years of recorded incidents, fly-tipping has increased by 10 per cent. In the Gwynedd authority, we have had three-weekly collections in part of the borough since 2014, and, in the same period, of 2014-16, reported fly-tipping incidents were up by 22 per cent.

Spoken Contribution – 17:25:21
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Yes, it could well be that there is a case for better advice given to householders, and if there is going to be some meaningful programme of doing that then we wouldn’t rubbish that policy. But I merely point out that sometimes good intentions can lead to worse consequences, so we do have to be very mindful of the fly-tipping problem, but I do appreciate the point you’re making.

Spoken Contribution – 17:26:07
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Yes, we—. I would have to look into that, but when I had a—. [Interruption.] Thank you, Joyce. To continue, when I had this exchange with the Minister responsible, Lesley Griffiths, we did actually have this difference of opinion over data. So, I apologise; I will look into it. I am being given data; I haven’t actually—. I can’t personally verify where it came from at this point.

Right. We do have therefore problems of fly-tipping in various areas. Okay, we’ve done that. Looking at Cardiff, we have had almost weekly instalments in the ‘South Wales Echo’ of admittedly anecdotal evidence, but there have been plenty of photographs that have been provided by concerned local householders in recent years pointing to their belief that fly-tipping has increased rapidly in the last couple of years. Recently, there has been a clearance of bushes on land around the main railway line that has revealed the huge amount of waste deposited illegally on this land over the past few years, and that didn’t become apparent until the bushes were actually cut back, and it’s quite a dramatic sight. Clearly, the so-called ‘zero waste’ policy is not leading to zero waste at all, and, indeed, it seems to be actually increasing the amount of waste that is illegally fly-tipped in Wales. In Cardiff, the Welsh Government’s policy has, in fact, been undermined by the Labour council’s decision to close down two of the city’s four recycling depots, which seems a curious way in which to try and achieve zero waste. So, I wonder what observations the Minister will have regarding that decision.

Over the past couple of years, Cardiff council has tended to hide behind the need to comply with EU waste recycling targets when they have been asked why the policies of waste collection are changing. They always say this: Bob Derbyshire, who’s in charge of it at cabinet level, he has always recited that they need to comply with EU waste recycling targets, but now that we are leaving the EU, we can ourselves, as a—. [Interruption.] Ah, okay, perhaps you can elucidate on that, but he is still claiming the need to comply with EU targets. We now have our own target of zero waste, so it’s not an EU target. So, we do need to consider the cost of slavishly adhering to very stiff targets. I think that we now need to have a good hard look at our own zero waste policy, and perhaps the debate today will help us to do that. Thank you.

Spoken Contribution – 18:17:01

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Will you give way?

Spoken Contribution – 18:17:04

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You are partly correct, but I would actually advise you to look at the original piece that Martin Shipton wrote, because I didn’t solely blame ethnic minorities; I also blamed students as well.