This is the bleak picture painted by a report published by the Welsh Assembly’s environment committee this week.

The 60 page report analyses the state of waste management in Wales and makes a host of recommendations about what might be done to address the dire situation.

Meeting Landfill and Recycling Targets could be accused of euphemism when it describes reaching those targets – 40% of waste composted or recycled by 2009/10 – as a ‘very substantial challenge’.

Last year just ten per cent of Welsh waste was recycled, with a further six per cent composted and less than a tenth of a pre cent going to an energy from waste plant, leaving 84% for landfill.

Alun Ffred Jones AM, chair of the environment committee, summed up the situation saying: “Dealing with the waste for which we are all responsible is a growing and extremely serious problem in Wales.

“We landfill the vast majority of our waste, while the space to do so is rapidly decreasing, and even though most of us are now more aware of the need to recycle and compost, the tendency is to assume that dealing with waste is someone else’s problem.

“Having considered all the evidence, the committee believes that Wales, its Government, its local authorities and its people, faces a very substantial challenge if it is to increase the amount of waste recycled and composted.”

The report calls for major increases to funding from Government to help local authorities meet their targets and recommends that such cash should be ring-fenced for specific projects to provide a basis for future planning.

It also suggests a carrot and stick approach to encourage manufacturers and packaging plants to reduce potential waste, offering tax incentives.

Public awareness is also a key issue, the report says, and people need to be reminded of their civic responsibilities while offered support and information to help make recycling as easy and painless as possible.

The report compares Welsh recycling rates with elsewhere in mainland Britain and while it concedes that England is some way ahead, it does point out that Scotland seems to be failing to get to grips with its waste and is lagging some way behind Wales.

The full report can be found on the Welsh Assembly’s website.

By Sam Bond

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