Residents have spotted bin collectors mixing the segregated recycling. Credit: Linda Gibbs.

Residents feel ‘failed’ by bin trial as separated recycling is thrown into mixed truck

Householders work hard to sort their waste at home… then watch it all get bundled together again

DANESCOURT residents are “furious” after months watching bin collectors throw their segregated recycling into one mixed truck. 

The segregated recycling pilot scheme, launched in January 2022, was brought in across Llandaff, Danescourt, Radyr, Pentwyn and Trowbridge. Residents were asked to segregate their recycling into separate reusable sacks for paper, metals/plastics and glass. 

This pilot scheme formed a part of the Towards Zero Waste Strategy launched by Cardiff Council, following 2021 figures revealing that Cardiff’s recycling rate was the worst in Wales. 

Cardiff Council face potential fines from the Welsh Government if they don’t improve their recycling rate. Credit: Welsh Government.

The pilot was originally set to last three months, but nine months later and numerous complaints to the council, segregated recycling continues to be thrown into one big refuse truck. 

The council has admitted that this is the case – but explained that waste is re-sorted later on.

Chris Tonge, a father and software developer from Danescourt, had heard rumours from his neighbours of this happening, but he didn’t believe it until he saw it with his own eyes. 

“I was out at lunchtime walking the dog on Timothy Rees Close, that was the first time that I witnessed it and it just got me really riled up. There’s me battling with my children trying to get them to separate all this recycling, and then I see the rubbish man just grabbing all three bags and shoving it in the same box,” he told The Cardiffian. 

Linda Gibbs, a retired senior NHS manager, had a similar story to tell. 

“The refuse truck with segregated compartments has only ever been to Danescourt at most on three separate occasions in the past nine months,” she said. “I was told by the council that the truck with segregated compartments had broken down and had not been replaced.

“Every week I just watch them fling the sacks across the street and I feel failed by the whole thing. I was on the phone or emailing the council nearly every week for the first three to four months of the trial before I gave up in despair.”

“Every week I just watch them fling the sacks across the street”. Credit: Linda Gibbs.

Ian Lloyd-Davies, media advisor for Cardiff Council, admitted to The Cardiffian that recyclables have been thrown into one mixed truck.

“We understand there is some confusion when residents see recyclable materials that they have prepared for kerbside-sort going into the back of one lorry, but we want to reassure them that there is a system in place,” Mr Lloyd-Davies said. 

Currently, recyclables are being taken to a Materials Recycling Centre on Lamby Way where the rubbish is then re-sorted into the correct groupings. 

“So it doesn’t actually affect what happens at the end of the day,” Mr Lloyd-Davies clarified. 

The council have also been quick to point to the positive results of this pilot, which has decreased the contamination rate of recycling at the source by 24%. 

“We’re going to be writing to everyone who participated in the pilot providing them with feedback of what we’ve done,” said Matthew Wakelam, head of neighbourhood services, at the environmental scrutiny committee meeting on September 22, 2022. 

But residents, who have been criticising the council’s lack of communication, are yet to receive this feedback. 

The segregated collection truck, which only turned up “at most on three separate occasions over nine months” before breaking down. Credit: Linda Gibbs.

“The communication has been appalling,” added Mrs Gibbs. “I just assumed, like any person would, that if we’re segregating, they would.

“I might as well just get a carrier bag, wait for them to come and just throw it all in myself,” said Mr Tonge who described the council’s failure to communicate with residents as “a real kick in the teeth”. 

Cardiff Council have confirmed plans to expand the scheme across the city over the next two years, despite the criticism they’ve received during the pilot.

“As the rollout is expanded, new purpose-built vehicles will be purchased, with separate sections on the vehicle for the different recyclable materials,” said Mr Lloyd-Davies.

But for many Danescourt residents, the switch to segregated lorries is too little, too late. 

“I am behind the scheme,” said Sean Driscoll, Llandaff and Danescourt Councillor.

“But I think with the breakdown of the van early on, people have been losing faith in the scheme and the council as a whole.”