Agenda item

Recyclable materials and the impact of the Pandemic on volumes and resale values


That the committee noted the current volatility relating to both waste and recycling collection levels and rebate values for the recycling material collected in the County.


            The report was presented by the Chief Officer (Streetscene and Transportation) who explained this information was requested by Committee to understand the extensive impact the pandemic had caused on quantities of materials collected and values obtained for the material.  The Chief Officer then provided detailed information on the positive impact which was recycling which had increased by 25%, food waste collections which had increased by 10%.  The negative impact was that residual waste had increased by 7%, and that with the closure of HRC sites and suspension of garden waste collections this had impacted on overall recycling performance.  The Chief Officer confirmed the recycling performance was likely to remain the same at around 66% and provided information on the WG target of 70% for the 2024/25 financial year and confirmed that this would be brought back to committee in June with the new Campaign called “Target 70” to encourage more recycling.  He also referred to the new TV and media campaign by WG called “Mighty Recycler” which would be starting in a couple of weeks to engage with the public.  He then provided information on the financial impact on the prices for plastics and the resulting pressure on the service.  WG had been very supportive with Flintshire being one of the first councils in Wales to put forward a bid for the hardship fund because of the additional tonnage and loss of income and that the service overspend had decreased over the years because of WG support.


            The Chief Officer then referred to 1.08 in the report to re-assure Members regarding concerns with Brexit and access to European markets for recycling products.  He confirmed that access was still available but that presently all our recyclable materials were being distributed to merchants in the UK with end destinations monitored and reported by Natural Resources Wales.

            Councillor Hardcastle referred to a meeting of Hawarden Community Council the previous evening where the parking issues at Yowley Road and Crossways at Ewloe were discussed.  Wagons were finding it difficult to navigate through the cars and resulted in collections being missed and asked what procedures were in place in this situation to collect the recycling.  

In response the Chief Officer confirmed that this was a common problem in every ward with more parked cars as people were working for home and that this was becoming a big issue for the service. The recycling had to be collected and it was not the residents’ fault that they were working from home and reported on letter drops which had been carried out to encourage residents to move their cars on collection days.  Smaller vehicles were being used but there was a cost to this and that it was more cost effective to collect with our larger vehicles.  He agreed to feedback this back to the team and email the councillor at Hawarden Community Council.   

The Cabinet Member commented on the recycling figures saying the amount of recycling collected from households had increased by 26%, food waste by 10% and residual by 7% and that the work undertaken by the workforce to manage this was unbelievable.  The amount collected was monitored by weight rather than volume when calculating the figures which meant even though recycling had increased it was negated by the residual waste.  There was a need to promote and encourage more residents to recycle especially the food waste recycling service as this was taken to a site in Rhuallt to turn into electricity.  She raised concerns on the amount of fly tipping and litter but was so impressed with the community litter picking groups stepping in to deal with this problem. The Cabinet Member then reported on the funding for the repair café in Buckley and that going forward we should be promoting re-use and repair rather than dispose.  She then referred to the sweeping of gullies and ditches with the waste having to be cleaned.  This was expensive and had to be sent to company in Manchester and that this had been raised across North Wales to look at a local facility to clean this waste.  The Chief Officer added that the disposal of gully and sweeping waste was one of the service’s highest spend areas because the material, whilst not classed as hazardous waste, the cost of disposal was considerably higher than normal waste material.

            The Chief Officer then referred to a question in the chat around Saturday collections and understood contact numbers were provided but would come back to committee with this.  He had also reported that all the Co-ordinators would be emailing the members within their region on a Friday afternoon with their availability for the following week and outlining the procedure for them to follow if they were unavailable.


            Councillor Chris Bithell sought clarification on the increase in the residual waste figures asking if it was recyclable or HRC waste and was the Council penalised with additional gate fees at Parc Adfer and by WG for this increase.   In response the Chief Officer confirmed this was an additional quantity of residual waste which as a weight had increased by 7% and did not include recyclable materials.  He referred to Parc Adfer and confirmed there was a guaranteed minimum fixed gate fee with any tonnage over this amount producing a reduced rate for the authority, so there was no net impact in using Parc Adfer for waste disposal.


            Councillor Paul Shotton referred to a litter group which had commenced in Connah’s Quay and had quickly increased to 400 members who went out in small groups to collect litter regularly.  He asked if the Council’s litter pickers were fully operational now.   In response the Chief Officer confirmed there were a small number who were shielding but the majority were still working throughout the pandemic.  He fully appreciated and supported the litter picker community groups which provided extra support in dealing with the increased amount of litter.  A bid had been placed with WG for the provision of equipment, bags etc. to provide to these groups and a waste collection service was provided to pick up the bags of litter.    The Cabinet Member said she had been approached by so many litter picking groups requesting equipment and she confirmed some supplies were available such as coloured plastic bags to identify the litter collected which was in turn collected by the Council from designated areas.  The groups had also been asked to separate the collected items between waste and recyclable materials if possible.


            Councillor Chris Dolphin commented that in rural areas the hedgerows were full of rubbish which had always been the case but because people were walking more now this had been highlighted.  He then referred to the various collection vehicles and praised the supervisor in the west of Flintshire who always answered the phone.  He commented there were some excellent people in this team which always had to deal with complaints especially when the weather was windy. 


            The Chair referred to the Chief Officer’s comment regarding the email sent by the co-ordinators on a Friday and said it would be useful if information on who to contact could be included in the email. 


            Councillor Owen Thomas referred to the A541 from Mold to Nannerch commenting that this road was an actual disgrace with litter which was attributed to the fast food outlets in Mold which diminished the further along the road you travelled.  Something had to be done with regard to the fast food waste.   In response the Cabinet Member referred to a Consultation with WG currently taking place on litter and fly tipping which finishes in April and it was suggested that Councillor Thomas added his concerns as part of that consultation.   The scheme in Kent were CCTV on vehicles was used to discover who was responsible for the litter and then imposing fines on the owners was also discussed.


The resolution was moved and seconded by Councillor Chris Dolphin and Sean Bibby




That the committee noted the current volatility relating to both waste and recycling collection levels and rebate values for the recycling material collected in the County.

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