Recycling rates in Pembrokeshire have increased by nearly 10% since the introduction of fortnightly kerbside black bag collection, county councillors will hear today (Thursday).

On October 14th last year black bag collections changed from weekly to fortnightly for most Pembrokeshire households. Only 3,422 properties in the county, including those on the Mount Estate, Pembroke’s Main Street and some properties within the walls of Tenby, still have weekly black bag collections.

Figures released to Pembrokeshire County Council’s overview and scrutiny committee reveal that there has been an overall increase in recycling form 58.97% in the first quarter of 2012/13 to 68.7% in the first quarter of 2013/14.

The report reveals that there has been a 16% increase in orange bag tonnage and a 12% increase in food waste tonnage. However the amount of black bags taken to civic amenity sites has also increased by 13%.

The report concedes that when the scheme was launched there was an increase in street litter and fly tipping, however fly tipping levels are back to usual levels and street cleanliness is now better than pre-fortnightly levels.

However weekly accumulation of black bags remains a problem in some areas of the county , “mainly connected with social housing areas” in Pembroke Dock, Hakin, and Milford Haven and Monkton.

The report adds that although there was initial concern about hygiene waste from members of the public this “quickly abated” and now averages one query a month.

Based on the current figures the report estimates that an extra 2000 tonnes of waste per year will end up being recycled rather than in landfill. This is broken down to 937 tonnes of orange bag waste, 173 tonnes of glass recycling, and 936 tonnes of food recycling.

However, the report concludes that there is still more work to do; 26% of the average black bag contents is food waste, while 17% are materials that could be placed in orange bags, a further 20% could potentially be recycled if the council could find sustainable long term markets for materials such as plastic film and plastic packaging.