Waste Collections

Jan 30, 2017 | Articles, Assembly Business, Assembly Issues | 0 comments

Plenary Wednesday 18th January 2017

Spoken Contribution - 17:51:14

Surely this indicates a causal link between reducing rubbish collections and increasing fly-tipping

Spoken Contribution – 17:51:14

We in UKIP support today’s Conservative motion. We are also concerned at the public health implications of reducing rubbish collections, and we acknowledge a likely connection between reducing collections and seeing a consequent increase in fly-tipping.

There has been a drive by councils across Wales in recent years to reduce collections in order to meet Welsh Government recycling targets. We do acknowledge that, statistically, the Welsh Government has performed well in terms of recycling rates, but we would ask: at what cost? Here in Cardiff, there have been several changes to the rubbish collections in recent years. Currently, there is a black bag collection every fortnight and one is limited to how many bags one can put out. However, the reduction, even from a weekly to a fortnightly collection, has been accompanied by fairly sizable anecdotal evidence of increased fly-tipping. This has been a major feature of the letters page in the ‘South Wales Echo’, and a recurring feature at that, with readers sending in considerable photographic evidence of fly-tipping in their area. This led to the council having to introduce a ‘Let’s clean up the streets’ campaign at the end of last year.

So, what does the available factual data reveal about fly-tipping in Cardiff? In 2015-16, Cardiff recorded the largest increase in fly-tipping incidents of any council in Wales. Across Wales as a whole, fly-tipping increased by 14 per cent during this period, when many councils changed their collection policies to comply with recycling targets. Surely this indicates a causal link between reducing rubbish collections and increasing fly-tipping, but both Labour and Plaid Cymru in their amendments today seem to deny this link. This seems to be flying in the face of the evidence.

Spoken Contribution – 17:53:10

Spoken Contribution – 17:53:22

I will accept the possibility. Will you also accept that there’s a possibility that it could be because of reduced rubbish collections?

Spoken Contribution – 17:53:37

Ultimately, we may be in danger of patting ourselves on the back for meeting recycling targets whilst ignoring the increasing piles of rubbish dumped in fields and back alleys. Cardiff, Newport, Swansea and some other towns are seeing more and more residents moving into small housing units like flats, or into shared accommodation like houses in multiple occupation. Many occupants of these kinds of premises simply don’t have room in which to store multiple bags of different kinds of waste, so we have to bear this reality in mind when we think about waste collection.

There is also the economic reality of councils having to juggle their budgets. At the same time as Cardiff has reduced rubbish collections, it has also closed one of the city’s four recycling centres and shortly proposes to close another. The same kind of financial dilemmas will also confront other councils who may make similar decisions. This is where grand and laudable hopes of meeting targets will clash with hard financial reality.

I think that a fortnightly waste collection is the bare minimum that councils should be providing, and I would urge the local government Minister to at least consider providing councils with guidance to this effect. I don’t think this is an abrogation of the principle of localism; I think it’s a sensible defence of public health.