Half of councils in Wales miss recycling targets
Almost half of local authorities in Wales have missed recycling targets set by the Welsh Assembly Government.
Councils were told to recycle and compost 40% of household waste in 2009/10, but 10 fell short, preliminary figures obtained by BBC Wales show.
Ministers say they believe the target would have been hit were it not for the impact of severe winter weather.
They also welcomed a reduction of almost 50% in waste going to landfill in Wales in the past five years.
More than 620,000 tonnnes of waste were recycled and composted in Wales in 2009/10, with 770,000 tonnes going to landfill.
Preliminary figures obtained by BBC Wales show that nationally, Wales just missed the target, with 39.27% of waste recycled or composted.
Verified figures are due in September.
But recycling did increase by more than three percentage points from 2008/09 and the overall amount of recycling in Wales has increased five-fold in the last decade.
Environment Minister Jane Davidson has called on householders in Wales to respond to tougher targets ahead.
Ms Davidson said: "I am delighted that in 2009/2010 Wales recycled more than ever before, despite the terrible winter which made composting almost impossible for a time.
"I am confident that without these tough conditions we would have been able to recycle more than 40% of our waste.
"At the beginning of the decade we recycled just 7% of our rubbish, so we should not underestimate our achievement.
"We have, however, a long way to go, as I pointed out when I announced our new waste plans, with targets of 70 per cent recycling by 2025.
"When you consider the way we have increased our recycling rates in recent years, this target is more than achievable.
"But if we are to reach this level of recycling we need change the way we think about our waste, which is what our Towards Zero Waste strategy is all about.
"That's why I am urging every single person in Wales to reduce the amount of waste they produce, reuse products where possible and recycle everything they can, so we can create the Wales our children and grandchildren deserve."
Haf Elgar, from Friends of the Earth Cymru, said: "It is disappointing that nearly half of local authorities seem likely to miss this year's recycling target.
"This shows the urgent need for all local authorities to develop full recycling collections with kerbside sorting and for future targets to be binding."
Blaenau Gwent had the lowest recycling rate in Wales, at 29%, while Denbighshire recycled more than half of its waste.
A Blaenau Gwent council spokeswoman said: "We are working hard with householders to improve Blaenau Gwent's recycling figures.
"Returns for this year so far are up and there is good support for our improved weekly recycling and food waste collection service.
"But we must continue this encouraging improvement if we are to meet the statutory recycling target when it comes into effect in 2012/2013. The recycling targets for 2009/10 were guidelines only.
"We have advised everyone that there are serious financial implications if we fail to achieve the 52% recycling target set for 2012/2013 but the growing support for our recycling service is very encouraging."
Ms Elgar urged the introduction of penalties for authorities which miss recycling targets.
She said: "We need to look at the amount of waste we produce overall - the whole amount that goes to landfill and to be recycled.
"Reducing the amount of waste produced should be our number one priority."
The assembly government has announced a £142m project for five councils across North Wales - Flintshire, Anglesey, Conwy, Denbighshire and Gwynedd - to manage waste that cannot be recycled through using alternative treatments.