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Wales looks to be world’s best recycler

Ambitious plans to move Wales to a zero waste, net zero carbon economy by 2050 have been announced by the Welsh government. Politicians want to hit a 100% recycling rate by that date, meaning no waste is sent to landfill or energy-from-waste plants.

Wales’ household recycling rate is already over 60%, making it the top recycling nation in the UK, the third best in Europe and the fourth best in the world. Devolved powers to the Welsh Government mean its policies are different from those in Scotland, Northern Ireland or England. The English recycling rate is currently stalling at around 44%.

Towards a greener Wales

The proposals for 2050 are included in a new report, Beyond Recycling, which aims to move Wales towards a circular economy and become the world’s best recycling nation. It says the aim is ‘not only to reach zero waste by 2050 but also to take action on the climate emergency and seize the economic opportunities to create a greener, more equal and more prosperous Wales’.

Going further

Minister Hannah Blythyn, says: ‘Wales is already leading the way in the UK when it comes to recycling but I want us to go further and take the next step. We’re on a journey towards becoming a circular economy where waste is avoided and resources are kept in use as long as possible.’
Beyond Recycling, sets out eight actions:

  • become the world leader in recycling
  • phase out single use plastic
  • clean technology for materials collection
  • more efficient use of food
  • prioritise the purchasing of wood, remanufactured and recycled content
  • enable communities to take collective action
  • create conditions for business to seize recycling opportunities
  • take full responsibility for waste

Bans and restrictions

In practice, this would mean sending no plastic to landfill and phasing out single-use plastics with bans and restrictions on several products. Biodegradable plastic from renewable sources will be used where it is still needed, for example in hospitals. Ministers say they will also work with the UK government to explore the idea of an incinerator tax.
Blythyn adds: ‘You are the recyclers, you are the groups working to improve your communities, you are the businesses finding new uses for materials that were once sent to landfill. We want a dialogue, it is your chance to let us know what you think about our proposals and to come up with new ideas and activities.’

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