A drop in Gwynedd’s recycling rates has concerned decision makers, suggesting that significant work is needed to ensure the county hits Welsh Government targets.

By 2025 all Welsh councils will have to recycle or compost 70 per cent of their waste or risk being fined, but Gwynedd Council cabinet heard they could struggle to reach their existing 64 per cent target.

Since 2018/19 the county has seen steady increases, posting year end recycling rates of 62.31 per cent, 64.74 per cent and 65.87 per cent by the end of 2020/21. However, concern has been raised over a reversing trend, with figures showing that only 64.64 per cent of waste has been recycled during the first half of 2021/22.

A meeting of the cabinet heard that more general waste being collected has impacted on the county’s recycling rates.

To get back on track, a report notes that plans include the installation of more recycling bins in public areas, as well as an awareness campaign.

“The recycling rates have gone down quite significantly, and its important to note that we cannot dip below 64 per cent,” said the portfolio holder for highways and municipal, Cllr Catrin Wager.

“Its important that these rates improve and we continue to recycle.

As the push to generate less waste intensifies, many councils across Wales have already opted for fewer general collections as landfill targets tighten.

In 2008 Gwynedd introduced fortnightly collections, and in 2014 three weekly collections in a bid to encourage more residents to use recycling boxes and to save money.

The average person in Gwynedd generates over half a tonne of waste a year, most of which is recycled in some form.

This material is usually sold on for a profit which in itself brings in an average income to the council of £700,000 a year – the equivalent of a 1 per cent council tax rise.

The remaining third of general waste and non-recyclables are transported to Parc Adfer in Deeside, the £800m waste-to-energy incinerator which takes in such waste from all northern counties with the exception of Wrexham.

Food waste, meanwhile, goes to the GwyriAD anaerobic digestion plant in Clynnog Fawr.

The specialist centre converts food waste into electrical energy for the National Grid and fertilizer for agricultural land.

But despite over 5,400 tonnes of food being converted every year, officers estimate that another 2,000 tonnes are being wrongfully dumped into general waste bins.

Steffan Jones, head of highways and municipal, said they had noted changing patterns during the course of an average year, and that the popular tourist season can result in an increase in residual waste during the summer.

“There’s a difficult period ahead of us and we’ll be monitoring the situation over the third quarter to ensure we remain above the statutory 64 per cent,” he added.

“We need a specific plan to reach 70 per cent by March 2025 and that’s what we’ll be working on.”