Why can’t wet wipes be recycled? Bridgend Council receives update on the recycling of wet wipes

After asking the question, Members of Bridgend County Borough Council have received an update on why wet wipes are not currently recycled separately from other absorbent hygiene products.  As well as wet wipes, the council’s Absorbent Hygiene Product (AHP) collections covers items such as absorbent bed sheets, adult incontinence pads, nappies, disposable aprons, paper tissues, plastic gloves and stoma bags, all of which is sent for recycling.

Following a question raised at a meeting of Council on Wednesday 21 October by Councillor Altaf Hussain on whether the council could introduce a separate collection for wet wipes, the deputy leader Councillor Hywel Williams said that the current AHP collection was at full capacity, and the collection fleet would need to be expanded by a significantly larger fleet of vehicles in order to cover the entire county borough for a separate wet wipes collection.

He said: “While it is possible to recycle wet wipes as part of our absorbent hygiene products collection, it is not recommended that a separate collection be established.

“In order to recycle the wet wipes, the AHP service would need to be extended to all households to collect a relatively small extra tonnage of material separately.

“This would be both prohibitively expensive and questionable in terms of environmental benefit when taking into account the carbon impact of sending vehicles to every household for such limited quantities of recyclable material.”

Councillor Williams said that while mid-term contract and service changes were not recommended, officers were already working on the options for the waste and recycling service post-2024 when the existing contract with Kier expires.

He said: “Bridgend County Borough Council is already proudly among the top recycling authorities in Wales, being well ahead of the statutory 64 per cent recycling target set by Welsh Government. This is thanks to the public’s commitment and engagement with our leading recycling service.

“In April 2024, two important milestones will be passed in terms of our waste and recycling services.

“Firstly, the Welsh Government statutory recycling target will rise to 70 per cent recycling, and secondly, our current contract with Kier which defines our service collection methodology will expire.

“Officers are already working on the options for the service post-2024, and over the coming months and years, engagement with council members and the public will be carried out in readiness for implementation of a new, revised collection regime in April 2024.

“This process will include a wholescale review of the current provision and what the future range of materials we recycle is composed of while ensuring that we achieve maximum environmental benefit in a cost-effective way.

“Guaranteeing that the council remains a leader in this field of protecting the environment and surpassing statutory targets is a key priority for us.”