Cardiff 'may face £21m recycling fines without increase'
Cardiff faces £21m of fines unless it recycles more than 90,000 extra tonnes of waste in the next three years, a report has warned.
It estimates an additional 32,000 tonnes of waste a year needs to be recycled in the city to hit 2020 targets, due to population growth.
The council is looking into opening a regional plant to sort glass, paper and plastic from across south Wales.
The report said there was not a "do nothing option" for the Welsh capital.
The Welsh Government - which set the first statutory recycling targets in the UK - has yet to fine any authority for missing them.
The target for 2016-17 was 58%, rising to 64% by 2019-20, and then 70% by 2024-25.
Any authority missing the targets faces a £200 per-tonne penalty.
Last year, three authorities failed to hit the target - Newport and Torfaen both fell just short at 57% each, while Blaenau Gwent's performance was the lowest at 49% - however, none were penalised.
This year, provisional figures showed Newport council had exceeded the target, at 61% for 2016-17, Torfaen had risen to 64%, and Blaenau Gwent had also improved at 57%.
A report by Cardiff's environmental scrutiny committee, to be considered on Tuesday, said the majority of initiatives to meet targets have been delivered but "constant thought is needed to ensure that the council achieves future targets".
"This in effect means that after taking into consideration waste and population growth we have to recycle approximately 32,000 tonnes of additional waste in Cardiff each year," the report states.
"The financial risk of failing targets can be massive. For example, failing by 4,000 tonnes could equate to a fiscal penalty of over £800,000.
"The 'do nothing option' has not been an option for Cardiff; if no further changes are made to the delivery of council recycling services, then the fines between now and 2020 could equate to over £21m."
The report also states:
- No "large-scale" facilities for sorting dry recycling exist in Wales
- Cardiff will explore the "feasibility of a regional recycling facility" - looking for interest from surrounding councils and testing the "market appetite"
- It will also deliver a business case for potential kerbside sorting of dry recycling - as opposed to the current comingled (mixed) arrangement
A Cardiff council spokesman said: "The council works with five local authorities to treat non-recyclable waste to create green energy through an Energy Recovery Facility.
"This partnership gives significant benefits, as by working together through economies of scale, the price for each of the partners to treat this waste is lower than if they worked individually.
"Using the same logic, Cardiff is currently proposing to carry out a feasibility study to explore the possibility of a partnership for dry recyclables but no decision has been made."