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Merthyr Tydfil, United Kingdom

IMPACTPaperRec / Facts & Figures  / Case studies / Merthyr Tydfil, United Kingdom
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GENERAL DATA

NATIONAL AND REGIONAL SYSTEM

Legislation & targets

 The Welsh Government has introduced legislation that sets minimum targets for recycling, preparation for re-use and composting for all Welsh municipalities. For 2025, the following targets are set: 27 % waste reduction, 70 % of materials is recycled/reused/composted, no residual waste in landfill. In 2050, a target of 100 % recycling is set (no residual waste, no Energy from Waste1. These targets apply to municipal waste. Separate collection is obligatory at least for paper & cardboard, metal, plastic and glass. In the past, municipal waste has been defined as only waste collected by local authorities in the UK. Following discussions with the European Commission the UK has decided that it has been using a too narrow definition of municipal waste. It is planned to change this to include all waste from households, and all wastes of a similar nature and composition to wastes from households, whoever collects it. As a result, the definition will be extended to cover most commercial waste2. It is the responsibility of Wales’ 22 municipalities to collect materials for recycling (public collection).

EPR system

Wales is part of a United Kingdom wide approach to Extended Producer Responsibility but is considering Wales’s specific initiatives in future. The UK packaging recovery system covers all packaging materials. EPR in UK functions via the trading of certificates and is thus different from the EPR schemes common in most other EU Member States.

Local system

Separate collection was first introduced in Merthyr Tydfil in 2002-2007. The new system of separate collection has been in place since June 2015.

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WASTE COLLECTION SCHEME

The waste collection from households is organised as separate Door-to-Door collection. Glass, cans & plastic, food (organic waste), paper, and cardboard are collected separately but with the same truck. Garden waste is collected during the season separately with another truck. Recyclables are put out in boxes and/or bags. Often some fractions are put out in the same box, f.e. glass and cardboard together and plastics and cans together with graphic paper. The waste collectors then sort when loading the truck. The system is designed for selective collection of graphic paper. In practice, however, both fractions are often collected jointly and are then separated at the sorting centre. Households can request additional boxes if 1x 55l per material type is not enough.

Recyclables are collected once per week by multi-compartment vehicles which include separate compartments for each type of recyclable. Residual waste is collected fortnightly in 140l wheelie bins, predominantly by 26t RCVs with 11t payload, covering approximately 1000 households per vehicle per day. Citizens can also take their recyclables and surplus refuse to the household waste recycling centers (HWRC = Recycling Yards). The recycling yard is equipped with containers of 35m3 and is open from 9.00 AM until 8.00 PM in spring/summer and until 4.30 PM in autumn/winter.

Commercial/trade waste: SMEs can decide who they wish to contract with for the collection/disposal of waste and recycling. The County Council is only obligated to collect from traders upon request. In that case a specific contract is signed between both parties for the collection service offered.

Service to the citizens:

55 l/inh/week (in DtD collection)

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INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATION

The new collection service has been launched in June 2015. As public resistance was expected a comprehensive communication plan has been set up to overcome potential difficulties. The key aims of the Communication Plan were to ensure that as many people as possible are informed about the change, to limit any disruption to collection services, to limit the amount of negative press generated about the reduction in refuse capacity and changes to methods of collecting recycling, and to encourage maximum levels of recycling/composting. The campaign was
designed as a broad and comprehensive campaign, targeting all external and internal target audiences. A wide range of communication tools was used:
• Postcard, Letter, Leaflet, Factsheet, Calendar, FAQ Guide
• Doorstepping, Bin Tags
• Roadshows, Events, Workshops
• Internet, E-mails, Newsletters, Social Media
• Media story (newspaper)
• Councils newsletter, Payslips, electronic consultation
• Bus stop adverts
• Opinion survey (postal, telephone, face to face survey), One to one meeting with selected stakeholders, Citizens panel
In 2015/16, a budget of £24,000 (€32,544 3) was allocated for Communications. Citizens find their information on waste management in general and on paper and cardboard waste specifically mainly on the leaflets distributed to the mailbox and on the website of the collector. The website of the municipality and the local newspaper are also used. The response provided by a shop also confirmed that the websites of the municipality and collector as well as the Leaflets are important communication channels, but also the information on containers is used. Both the waste management company and the NGO confirm that the information provided to the citizens is sufficient. The waste management company furthermore states that the vast majority of the citizens do sort and that they are well informed about how to sort their waste.

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EVOLUTION PAPER & CARBOARD WASTE COLLECTED

The drop of separately collected PfR coincides with the introduction of the new system. One can assume that once people have fully adapted to the new system, the level of earlier improvements can be regained. However, there is still a large amount of paper & cardboard prevalent in the residual waste fraction.
Since 2011/2012, a constant increase of PfR collected separately can be observed, at least until the year 2014/2015.

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PAPER AND CARDBOARD WASTE TREATMENT

Paper and cardboard that is collected selectively gets sorted by visual inspection of the arriving fractions at the sorting centre. The graphic paper is then sold to Palm Recycling while the cardboard fraction goes to Newport paper and is usually destined for export.

Residual waste in Merthyr Tydfil is delivered to an energy recovery plant in Cardiff. Due to the high quota of paper & cardboard in residual waste more than two thirds of all paper & cardboard available on the territory is not recycled/ recovered.

The year 2014/2015, just before the introduction of the new system, was the year with the highest recycling rate for recycling of paper and cardboard (see figure 5).

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COSTS AND REVENUE, RESOURCES

Fees for citizens: Direct revenue support grant from Welsh Government provides most funding. Domestic waste collection costs in Wales are not charged at point of use and are funded from general taxation. The fee is included in the annual council tax bill but not identified separately4.
Fees for businesses: Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council provides a chargeable trade waste collection service for local businesses. Several different size containers are available to suit the amount of waste generated, these waste containers range in size from a 55 litre stackable box to an 1100 litre container. The price is per weekly collection and depends on the bin size and on the waste stream. For paper the price ranges from £0.80 for 55l box to £15.00 for an 1100 l bin (per weekly collection). Cardboard recycling is £10.00 per roll of tape of 33m.The total cost for waste collection and sorting was £2,644,863 in 2015, while the system generated revenues of £249,6375. In 2015, the system therefore covered only 9.44 % of the costs.

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STAKEHOLDER SATISFACTION

Citizens: Only about half of the sample6 is overall satisfied with the waste management serviced provided by the municipality. 4 citizens expressed some dissatisfaction while 3 answered neutral. The dissatisfaction seems to be mainly related to the transparency and practicality of the services, as well as to doubts in receiving good service for money and a high quality service. In a more depth analysis it would be interesting to investigate which concrete elements of the system are considered as problematic by some citizens7.
The strength of the system seems to be in its efficiency and reliability. While only one respondent considers sorting PfR as difficult, still six citizens questioned consider sorting their paper and cardboard as neither easy nor difficult and eight consider it as easy or very easy.While two citizens of the sample state that they feel rather poorly informed about how to sort their waste in general and paper and cardboard waste in particular, at the same time all respondents state that they know how to sort their waste, see figure 8 on the left. As figure 8 illustrates, the main issue seems to be the space at home as well as time and having access to a convenient collection service.
The observation that citizens don’t have enough space at home to sort their waste is shared by the NGO.
In general it can be concluded that there still seems to be some dissatisfaction with the new waste management system by the citizens. It would need to be further analysed what causes citizens the most difficulties. When reviewing these comments one should keep in mind that the system has been changed only last year and is therefore still new to everyone. This certainly influences the satisfaction of the citizens, as they need to get used to the new system first.
Apart from the citizens, also four other types of stakeholders have been consulted: one shop/ small business, one NGO, two employees of the waste management company and four employees of the waste management department of the municipality. The overall satisfaction of all these stakeholder groups is quite high. A small doubt from the part of the shop/small business might be related to the transparency and practicality of the system.

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MAIN PROBLEMS/CHALLENGES

In the questionnaires the only issue the citizens identified is the unpleasant surrounding of containers and littering. This is also mentioned by the employees of the WM department as well as by the waste management company. As there are no Bring Banks in Merthyr Tydfil this refers to the door-to-door collection.
Through the direct contact to the citizens after the implementation of the new system, the municipality received the following complaints by households8:
– Food bags not being left when bag is tied to handle (have to email waste services)
– Placement of bins/bags/boxes after collection (not stacked inside each other but strewn across pavement)
– Litter dropped by crews during collections not being picked up
– Lack of information from crews when members of public asks questions
The other stakeholders questioned agree that impurities and contamination of the paper and cardboard fraction is the biggest problem in the new waste management system.

More information: Stephen Thomas
Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council
stephen.thomas@merthyr.gov.uk

1 Welsh Assembly Government (2010): Towards Zero Waste. One Wales: One Planet. The Overarching Waste Strategy. Document for Wales. June 2010. p. 46.
2 Welsh Assembly Government (2010): Towards Zero Waste. One Wales: One Planet. The Overarching Waste Strategy. Document for Wales. June 2010. p. 16: “Following discussions with the European Commission the UK has decided that it has been usina too narrow definition of municipal waste (only waste collected by local authorities). It is planned to change this to include all waste from households, and all wastes of a similar nature and composition to wastes from households, whoever collects it. As a result, the definition will be extended to cover most commercial waste. This decision was made after the draft of Towards Zero Waste was launched for consultation. The term ’municipal’ in the consultation applied only to municipal wastes collected by local authorities. This strategy document now refers to ‘municipal waste collected by local authorities’, and to ‘commercial waste’ for the municipal waste not collected by local authorities. Final decisions on terminology will be decided following consultation.”
3 Calculated according to the exchange rate on 31.12.2015: 1 GBP = 1.356 EUR
4 The effective annual council tax charge for waste services for a Band D property is £39.5.
5 £2,644,863 = €3,603,626; £249,637 = €340,130
6 The questionnaire was filled out by 15 citizens from Merthyr Tydfil.

7 The most obvious explanation for these complaints is the recent change of the WM system. The recent communication plan of MTCBC (Merthyr Tydfill County Borough Council) states that “At the start of the service change public perception of how successful the change would be was very low (…)”, see MTCBC (2016): Waste Services Communications Plan 2016-17, Introduction (draft version).
8 Merthyr Tydfill County Borough Council (2016): Waste Services Communications Plan 2016-17. (draft version)

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