Cardiff council has responded to concerns sparked by pictures showing separated recycling being mixed together in one bin lorry. One picture shared on social media viewed by hundreds of people shows the contents of separate recycling sacks being put into the back of a single compartment lorry with one councillor calling it "demoralising" and "frustrating".

Cardiff council said issues with some of its new recycling lorries, which have two separate compartments, have meant there have been times when it has had to use general waste vehicles to collect separated recycling. The council has insisted that the use of single-compartment bin lorries "does not have a material impact on the recycling collected".

It said this is because residents have ensured that recyclables being collected are of a high quality and that they are being taken to Lamby Way to be separated by size and weight. In a statement Cardiff council said it was in the process of buying more recycling vehicles with separate compartments. For more Cardiff news sign up to our newsletter here.

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The council also said its separated recycling scheme has been performing well. Figures published by the local authority showed about 92% of waste collected from homes under the new system over the past six weeks can be recycled. Under the co-mingled green bag collection method only 70% of the material collected can be recycled according to the data.

A council spokesman said: “The figures we are seeing are making a big difference and we want to take this opportunity to thank residents for getting on board with the scheme and adapting to it so quickly. The figures right now show a significant and continuous improvement compared with the co-mingled (green bag) collection system.

"Residents are doing a brilliant job. Separating recyclables into different streams is leading to less contamination." The separated recycling scheme was piloted across 10,000 households in wards across the city in 2022 and 2023 and it was later rolled out to 37,000 properties from February 2024.

The scheme involves residents separating their recyclables three ways. There is a blue caddy for glass, a blue sack for paper and cardboard, and a red sack for metals, foil, plastics, and tetra packs. Cardiff Council said the co-mingled method of recycling would often cause contamination to the recyclable material by some people putting items in their green bags which shouldn't be there.

The council spokesman added: "In many instances those bags would contain food waste or dirty nappies among other things causing a nuisance to our staff, costing the council further money to incinerate the non-recyclable waste, and creating issues with animals and birds breaking open bags on the street. The new system makes it harder for animals and birds to break open the sacks but the fact they contain less food waste than we were finding in green bags is also helping fix this problem.

"The scheme is working and will help us get closer to achieving Welsh Government’s recycling targets and will reduce the environmental impacts relating to the carbon emissions of producing new raw materials." In total, 47,000 properties across Cardiff use the new separated recycling scheme and plans are now in place to roll it out to a further 80,000-plus homes this year.

Under targets set out by the Welsh Government Cardiff’s recycling and composting rate must reach 70% by 2025. It is currently at 62%. At a Cardiff Council environmental scrutiny committee meeting in February a council official told committee members that the local authority could be fined £1.9m if it does not achieve its recycling target.

Assistant director for street scene at the council, Matthew Wakelam, said the city was approaching a 64% recycling rate and Cardiff council is currently carrying about £3m worth of physical penalties related to its past recycling performance. The statutory minimum recycling target of 70% has been achieved by five local authorities in Wales. They are Swansea, Pembrokeshire, Bridgend, Ceredigion, and Monmouthshire. In December 2023 it was reported that 17 of the 22 Welsh local authorities had exceeded the 64% target that was previously set.