Welsh businesses walk the talk on waste-to-landfill reduction

Wales is moving ever-closer to adopting a resource-efficient circular economy with businesses in the commercial, construction and demolition sectors all recycling more than ever.

According to the Welsh Government’s recent Industrial and Commercial Waste Survey, retailers across the country recycled or composted an estimated 68% of waste in 2012 – a significant increase from the 37% rate in the 2007 and almost reaching to the Government’s 70% target for 2024/25.

Meanwhile, the construction and demolition sectors recycled or recovered around 87% of waste produced – just short of the national Government’s 90% target for 2019/20.

Minister for Natural Resources and Food Alun Davies said: “These results from 2012 demonstrate that there is still much we can do to prevent waste going to landfill in Wales, but the construction, demolition and commercial sector results in particular make it clear that high recycling rates are achievable, as we move towards a circular economy in Wales.

“I launched the Waste Prevention Programme in 2013 with clear targets across all sectors, and I hope these results reinforce for Welsh businesses how they could be breaking the link between waste generation and economic growth.

“Food and drink manufacturing is a great example of a sector with the potential to make savings and become more competitive by preventing waste.” 

Seperating waste

Of the estimated 1.7m tonnes of waste generated by the commercial industry in 2012, the two biggest sectors for waste generation were wholesale and retail (52%), and accommodation and food services (15%).

Almost all commercial waste disposed to landfill was mixed wastes (413,000 tonnes), suggesting that there is potential for the commercial sector to reduce this by improving the separation of waste types at source for re-use or recycling.

In the construction and demolition survey, the civil engineering sector generated the most waste (47%), followed by construction (41%), general building (7%) and demolition (4%). 

The Welsh Government’s Waste Prevention Programme, launched at the end of last year, sets out a target of a 1.4% reduction for construction and demolition waste treated off-site every year to 2050, based on a 2006/7 baseline.

No exception

Emyr Roberts, chief executive of Natural Resources Wales – which produces the Government’s Industrial and Commercial Waste Survey – believes firms in other sectors should take heed of these recycling efforts.

“Businesses know that the key to economic sustainability is keeping costs down and better management of resources, and waste is no exception,” said Roberts.

“The results from these surveys are encouraging in part but there is an opportunity to do more. This is why we are committed to working with businesses to support them to reduce and manage their waste appropriately to benefit the environment and the economy.”

Luke Nicholls

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