Finding alternatives to landfill waste in Wales

10 Oct 2018 - 12:01pm

Welsh Government programme ‘well-managed’ but some councils who’ve opted out are still reliant on landfill

A Welsh Government procurement programme to help councils set up food and residual waste contracts has been well-managed, according to a report published today by the Auditor General for Wales. But, several councils have opted out of the Programme, generally at a higher cost for residual waste treatment, and some are still reliant on landfill.

Overall, the 10 contracts established through the Waste Infrastructure Procurement Programme have involved 19 of the 22 councils in Wales. The Programme was set up in 2008 and is projected to cost in the region of £1.4 billion by 2044-45 which is lower than initial estimates but will depend on the amount of waste that needs treating. This sum includes a contribution of £342 million from the Welsh Government, with the remainder falling to councils.

The report concludes that the Programme has been well-managed, with a clear emphasis on collaboration and a consistent and rigorous management approach. While it’s too early to judge the value-for-money of the contracts, the procurement of new waste treatment capacity has significantly reduced reliance on landfill in recent years. However, the report highlights risks that remain for residual waste projects in particular and found that the projections used as the basis for these contracts do not align with the Welsh Government’s overall aspiration for there to be zero residual waste by 2050.

The report calls for the Welsh Government to work with councils to consider the impact of any changes in projections on the likely cost of residual waste projects. It also recommends that the Welsh Government extends its oversight of the Programme as the focus shifts to contract management, for example by making additional specialist advice available if required. 

Auditor General, Adrian Crompton said:

“The Waste Infrastructure Procurement Programme has been well-managed so far. But, it’s important for the Welsh Government to take steps to ensure that contracts are managed effectively, given the long-term costs, and to consider how the projections that informed the contracts for residual waste align with the aspirations of its waste strategy. Meanwhile, some councils who’ve opted out of the Programme still need to find alternatives to manage within landfill allowances and avoid incurring fines.”