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New food waste bags avoid a trip to landfill

NEW food waste bags introduced across Swansea will be helping create renewable energy rather than disappearing into landfill.

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The plastic bags introduced last month are being treated in exactly the same way as the ones they've replaced as part of Swansea Council's efforts to ensure as much waste as possible avoids a trip to the tip.

Mark Thomas, Cabinet Member for Environment, said: "We agreed a new contract last year that means all our food waste now goes to Bridgend where it's turned into energy

"Food waste is being used to generate electricity and then leftovers are literally ploughed back into the food chain as organic fertiliser.

"The plastic bags themselves will be burned under controlled conditions to generate more electricity after their contents have been taken out. The new bags will be disposed of in exactly the same way as the previous bags residents used.

"I want to reassure residents that by participating in kerbside food waste disposal they are contributing to ensuring that none of the contents of their caddy ends up in landfill - in fact all of it is used to create electricity."

In the past the biodegradable bags used to line caddies were raked out and burned to create energy rather than taken to landfill to rot away. The new plastic bags - which are not biodegradable - will be burned as well.

Cllr Thomas said: "Modern energy from waste plants are considered the most effective way to prevent as much waste as possible from ending up in landfill. Burning waste in strictly-controlled conditions to generate renewable power is approved by the Welsh Government as the preferred disposal method for materials not recycled."

In addition to this the new plastic bags are stronger which means they are less likely to split in the caddies further encouraging food recycling. It also means that if residents run out of caddy-liners they can re-use clear plastic bags instead of throwing them away. The new bags are also less costly than the previous bags.

Cllr Thomas added: "What this all adds up to is that there'll be no increase in the number of bags being used for food waste and nor will there be any change to the way we dispose of them.

"At the same time filling food waste caddies will be easier and more convenient to use, encouraging more people to recycle food waste."

At the moment Swansea Council's kerbside recycling service is ensuring that more than 60% of waste is recycled rather than sent to landfill. But the Welsh Government's target is to achieve 70% recycling across the country by 2024/25.

A contract signed last year with Bridgend-based Agrivert means food waste collected at the kerbside is sent to a new anaerobic digestion plant operated in Bridgend by Agrivert, an expert in the field of turning food waste into power.

Cllr Thomas said: "It also means that just so long as people don't put their food waste in black bags, it'll never end up in landfill for future generations to have to deal with."

In total Agrivert South Wales AD plant processes 48,000 tonnes of food and liquid wastes each year, generating 3MW of renewable electricity, which is enough energy to power 5,900 homes.

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