Presteigne, Norton praised for recycling 74% of waste
Two Powys communities have reached a national target to recycle 70% of waste 14 years ahead of schedule.
Presteigne and Norton, which have been in the Zero Waste Wales scheme since April 2010, recycled 74% of municipal rubbish from April to June.
Annual recycling rates across Powys as a whole are 37%, Denbighshire top with 55%, and a Welsh average of 44%.
But the Welsh Government said it was unfair to compare annual recycling statistics with quarterly figures.
It said that recycling rates differed throughout the year.
The next quarterly recycling figures for local authority areas, from April to June, will be available on Tuesday.
By 2025 the Welsh Government expects the country to recycle 70% of its waste.
Environment Minister John Griffiths praised the two communities and the Cwm Harry Land Trust, a social enterprise group which has supported them.
The aim of the zero waste scheme is to "reduce to a minimum" the amount of refuse the communities send to landfill.
Since April 2010, Cwm Harry has been collecting refuse from 250 households in the town of Presteigne and village of Norton everyday.
Residents have placed rubbish which can be recycled in a range of labelled containers.
Mr Griffiths, speaking at a conference in Llandudno held by Cylch, Wales' community recycling network, said: "One of the key reasons the Presteigne and Norton project has been able to reach this level of recycling is the huge effort they have made to engage with the local community.
"This has involved employing local staff, café drop-in sessions, talks, litter picks and much more.
"The result of this fantastic engagement is a 92% participation rate and a community that understands and supports the scheme."
But Mr Griffiths warned against complacency.
He reminded delegates there was a long way to go before the nation reached its 2025 recycling target of 70%.
Katy Anderson of the Cwm Harry Land Trust said: "Presteigne and Norton have reached the Welsh Government Zero Waste target for 2025 14 years ahead of schedule.
"The pilot has shown that these challenging targets are achievable.
"We use a slow recycling approach which invests in people rather than the hi-tech shiny trucks of conventional waste management.
"Our local team collect recycling from just 250 houses a day using our trusty milk float and store it at a depot ready to sell."
Ms Anderson said people had also been made aware of the value of waste, and the communities had been given back the value of their recycling which was £10,800 last year.
The money went to a variety of good causes including the high school in Presteigne and the air ambulance.