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Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Dispute rages between MP and council over county's new recycling scheme

* Dr James Davies MP at Shotton Mills Ltd. 

An MP  who has been campaigning against Denbighshire's plan to scrap the blue wheelie bin, has branded it as one of the worst decisions the county council has ever made. 

But a council chief strongly has strongly defended its decision to go ahead with the scheme.

Last week, Denbighshire made public its plans to introduce a new recycling system on Monday June 3 when residents will be required to separate their ‘dry’ recycling using a new three-tier Trolleybox. This will be delivered to households before the end of May.

Vale of Clwyd MP Dr James Davies, who has met and exchanged correspondence over this topic with senior council officers and county councillors on many occasions, says he is disappointed that his views, and those of others who oppose the changes, have been ignored. 

He said: “The council has followed this path under heavy pressure from the Labour/Plaid Welsh Government to adopt its preferred model, but did not have to do so.  

“The reason given for the change has been the need to increase recycling rates, yet the 2022-23 statistics demonstrate that Denbighshire is currently achieving an impressive 65.9% recycling rate.  

"It is already performing above average for Wales, and second best out of the six councils in north Wales. Importantly, it does better than some councils which already have the model it intends to implement.

“The actual reason for the change has always been about saving money, and receiving millions in the process for setup costs from the Welsh Government. Yet the projected annual savings were always small and based on variable factors.  

"As predicted, the upfront cost of the change will have more than wiped out any savings for many years to come. Plus the £12m "sweetener" from the Welsh Government is still taxpayers' money. 

* The blue bin which is currently used in Denbighshire for recycling. 

“I consider the council's decision to ignore opposition and plough ahead regardless to be one of the worst decisions it has ever made, and to be unforgivable in the context of this year's 9.34% council tax increase.

“Following many delays and cost increases, the council now plans to introduce the new system in June 2024.  It is doing so on the basis of support from its Cabinet only - Full Council has never been given a vote on the matter.”

He added: “There are other ways in which recycling rates could be boosted while retaining the blue wheelie bin. However, Denbighshire have shown an unwillingness to reconsider or explore a range of other options or compromises.

“Limited consultation carried out by the council has been dishonest - failing to spell out the fact that the blue bin has been under threat.  There has in general been a reluctance to communicate the proposed changes to the public, in the knowledge that they would be very unpopular."

Last November 2023, Dr Davies visited Shotton Mills Ltd (SML) with Gareth Davies MS and Denbighshire Conservative councillors. This facility is the current destination of Denbighshire's kerbside waste, which it processes via a Materials Recovery Facility (MRF).

He said: “SML will need to actively encourage councils to send it paper and cardboard waste so as to allow it to fulfil its future plans for the site.  It sells sorted glass and plastic 'downstream' and can continue to do this.  As a result of the Welsh Government's policy strategy, it is now having to bring most of the waste it processes from elsewhere in the UK.

“My assessment is that SML need DCC’s paper and card waste in particular and that the proposed collection of cardboard in a bag attached to a trolleybox will be a backward step, with the material being more liable to be wet, hampering the recycling process.”

Further views on this matter can be seen on Dr Davies's campaign page at

What the council says

Councillor Barry Mellor, the county council's Lead Member for the Environment and Transport, said: "We are disappointed that despite corresponding and meeting with Dr Davies on a number of occasions regarding the new waste model that he has failed to understand how important this change is for Denbighshire and the long-term benefits it will bring. 

"To be absolutely clear, our new waste service has three main benefits:

"It is better for the environment because it will increase recycling rates and the quality of recyclable materials to enable them to be made into new products;

"It will be cheaper to run that the current service, and therefore provides better value for money to Denbighshire residents; 

"It is better for the local economy because it will lead to the creation of 27 new jobs for local people. That is even without mentioning the economic benefits from the expansion of four important local businesses on the Colomendy Industrial Estate in Denbigh that this project has enabled via the project to build our new waste depot. 

“It is also disappointing that Dr Davies continues to suggest to Denbighshire residents that we can choose not to implement the new model, despite being told on many occasions that it is several years too late to change a decision that was made in December 2018 by the then Conservative/Independent coalition Cabinet. We have now almost completed a new, purpose -build depot for the new service, and we have also purchased all the new containers and vehicles."

He added: "We are 100% convinced that the new service is the right decision, and it therefore makes no sense whatsoever to change our minds now. It would also be a huge waste of taxpayers’ money if the council were to fail to proceed with the new system at this stage. This has all been explained to Dr Davies on many occasions, but he does not seem to hear that message.

"Along with other Welsh councils we are working to meet the Welsh Government’s ‘Beyond Recycling’ Strategy target of recycling 70% of all waste by 2025. Although we are currently at 66%, together with other local authority colleagues we know that we need to do more to improve this figure. Most councils in Wales already operate a system for recycling similar to the one we are introducing, including Conwy who have been using this system for several years.   

"Information about our new waste and recycling service model has been available in the public domain previously for people to view.  It is interesting that the Conservative MP is so against our new waste model when the decision to change it was made by the Conservative and Independent coalition Cabinet in 2018.  

"That decision was made following a consultation exercise where residents were asked to tell us what they liked and didn’t like about our current waste service.  The biggest message from residents was that they did not have enough room in their blue bin for all their recycling.  That is why our new weekly recycling collections will provide people with more capacity to recycle. 

"The new Trolibocs system and hessian bag for cardboard has a significantly increased capacity than the current blue bin, with space increasing from 240 litres every two weeks to 250 litres every week.  

"So not only are the new containers collectively bigger than the blue bin, but they will also be collected weekly instead of fortnightly. This expanded service will therefore enable people to recycle everything that needs to be recycled.

"Due to the way the council currently delivers the recycling collection service, i.e., all recycling in one container, it has to pay for this to be taken away and sorted. The cost of this is continuing to increase and shows no signs of stopping. As the recycling is all mixed together it isn’t possible for our staff to spot items that shouldn’t be recycled, this means that ‘contaminated’ recycling is more likely and results in the Council being fined.

"“The new ‘kerb side sort’ service will mean that the council can sort the recycling itself and remove any contamination. The benefit of the new service is that recycling levels will be higher and of a better quality, and the council can then choose to whom and where the materials are sold.

"Even with the additional collections and the increased number of staff, the new service will be cheaper to run than the existing model, and more importantly it will be better for the environment.

“The council has launched a campaign to inform residents of the go live date for the new service using available media channels, and information will continue to be provided to support communities over the coming months. 

"Delivery of the new containers will start from February 23 and a comprehensive information pack explaining how the new system works will be in the top box of the Trolibocs or in the hessian bag for cardboard for those residents on the bag service.”

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