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Wales reveals plan to become world’s number one recycler

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Wales is aiming to become the world’s number one recycler, the government has revealed in its new circular economy plan.

On 2 March, the Welsh Government published an ambitious strategy, ‘Beyond Recycling’, to support a green recovery in Wales by transitioning to a circular economy. In the strategy, the government sets out how it will lead Wales towards a circular economy, in which resources and items are kept in use for as long as possible and waste is avoided.

Wales is already ranked the third-best country for recycling in the world, but the aim is to go further to also be world-leading in reusing, repairing and manufacturing from what would otherwise be thrown away, by cutting the amount of food wasted in Wales, and by reducing the amount of unnecessary single-use items that are used and often littered.

The strategy includes a commitment to jumpstart a step change in public sector procurement, worth £6.7 billion (€7.7 billion) per year in Wales, with low-carbon, resource-efficient businesses to be given priority in tenders that use money from the public purse.

Over the last year, the Welsh Government has already increased funding for circular economy projects from £6.5 million (€7.5 million) to £43 million (€49.6 million). This has supported 180 initiatives in every part of Wales, bringing together communities to fix their broken goods, redistribute food that would otherwise have ended up in the bin, or repurposed pots and plastics into furniture.

Lesley Griffiths, the Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs, said: “By helping us to manage our resources, the steps set out in ‘Beyond Recycling’ will help us to drive our green recovery to the coronavirus pandemic, Brexit, and the impact of the climate emergency – as well as playing a vital and necessary part in our route to becoming a net-zero carbon nation by 2050.

“But as well as helping us to face those challenges, the strategy also sets out how this is a fantastic opportunity for Wales.

“Our circular economy can be world-leading and help businesses not just to improve resource use at home, but also to compete internationally.

“There is already fantastic work taking place all over Wales, in which it is playing a key role in our green recovery from the pandemic. We have a burgeoning green business sector helping to boost our economic resilience, and social enterprises and charities supporting communities to keep items in use as long as possible, and support households facing tight budgets.

“The global economy is looking at the potential of the circular economy, but here in Wales we are in a prime position to lead.”