The composition of Wales’ municipal waste: 55 per cent collected for recycling

Abfalltonnen (Foto: ©Rolf van Melis/

Banbury, UK — In 2015, WRAP Cymru commissioned a piece of work analysing the composition of Wales’ municipal waste; the results are now published. The analysis showed that out of the 1.55 million tonnes of MSW collected 856,000 tonnes were collected for recycling either on the kerbside or via other types of collection in 2014-2015. 31.2 per cent of all MSW is recycled via kerbside collections with further 24.1 per cent collected for recycling via other routes (including HWRCs and bring banks). This has improved substantially since the last analysis in 2009.

There are considerable amounts of recyclable material still present within the municipal waste stream. Food waste is the main target material still more likely to be found in the residual waste streams than in the separate food waste services with a 47 per cent capture rate at the kerbside. The dry recycling materials are not as abundant within the residual waste streams with good capture rates achieved for glass, paper and card, rubble and ferrous metals. Dense plastics, textiles and non-ferrous metals are not as well captured as some of the other materials.

Composition data along with Waste Data Flow returns for 2014/15 were used to estimate overall composition of MSW in Wales. Putrescible waste made up a third (33.6 per cent) of the overall municipal solid waste. This was made up of food waste (16.4 per cent), garden waste (14.6 per cent) and other organic waste (2.6 per cent). Paper and card (17.9 per cent) was the next biggest category and consisted of recyclable paper (8.4 per cent), recyclable card (6.2 per cent) and non recyclable fibres (3.2 per cent). Other combustible waste (11.5 per cent) and other non-combustible inert waste (8.5 per cent) were also prominent.

The most noticeable change in the composition of the MSW is the decrease in the proportion of paper 12.0 per cent in 2009 to 8.4 per cent in 2015. On the other hand non-combustible waste increased from 6 per cent to 8.5 per cent. This material is made up of inert materials like rubble and cat litter.

Regarding the distribution of the different material streams within MSW, recyclable paper which made up 8.4 per cent of the total MSW composition, was mostly present in the kerbside collected recycling streams (58.3 per cent). A further 15.5 per cent of this material was found in the kerbside residual waste stream. Materials such as glass and other non-combustible waste mostly end up within the recycling streams. Food waste was a major contributor to the overall composition and was mostly found within the residual waste stream (42.3 per cent). A similar proportion of food was found within the kerbside collected recycling and composting (39.3 per cent). Around a third of dense plastics were making their way into the kerbside residual waste stream with a further 13 per cent found in the HWRC waste. Although not hugely contributing to the overall composition of the MSW metals are recycled in only around half of all instances.

The full report on „National municipal waste compositional analysis in Wales“ can be downloaded under

Source: WRAP Cymru