TOUGH new recycling targets will result in million pound fines by Welsh Government if not met, as the push to change how waste is collected continues.

A plan to increase recycling and reduce black bin bag collection will go to public consultation following approval by the council’s Cabinet today (Monday).

The recommendation, with an amendment that ‘absorbent hygiene products’ such as nappies and incontinence pads’ be collected weekly or fortnightly, will see residents sorting more types of material for recycling and rubbish collection reduced to every three weeks.

Cabinet members heard on Monday (November 6) that if people used their food bins, next year’s Welsh Government imposed target of 60% of waste recycled would be met, but warned that greater targets were also planned.

Head of environment and civil contingencies, Richard Brown, had recently attended the 20 community engagement sessions held around the county and explained why and how the changes to waste services needed to be made.

Mr Brown was asked to clarify the fine system and said that there were potential fines of £200 per tonne short, totalling in excess of £1million if the council was 6% short of 2019’s target, as it would be if nothing is changed.

Cabinet agreed that it was vital to get the message to a far wider audience, with a YouTube video being produced as part of that plan.

“All these people up in arms on Facebook, I wish they’d listen to Richard’s presentation before they comment,” said Council Leader Cllr David Simpson.

Councillors Phil Baker, Neil Prior and Bob Kilmister - whose election manifesto including not voting for three-weekly collection - said they had been convinced by the argument for the need for change.

It was Cllr Kilmister who tabled the amendment to consider weekly collection of nappies and other absorbent waste, as it would reduce administration costs in the region of £160,000.

He said 203 members of the public attended the 20 engagement events and only five were under 30.

“You couldn’t call it democratically representative. It was a useful exercise but we need to reach a hell of a lot more people,” said Cllr Kilmister.

He added that the same concerns came up at each event, including absorbent hygienic waste, pet waste and how who has put what out a multi-collection points will be identified.

“If we could just get people to recycle food waste properly we would achieve targets in the short term, however not in the long term. Eventually we’d still reach the same barrier, at some point in time we will have to go to three-weekly collections, so why not do it now?” added Cllr Kilmister.

Without food or nappies there would be nothing in black bags, agreed councillors.

Cllr Kilmister added that pet waste was an owner’s responsibility as it was “different to having children or medical problems”.

The public will be asked to comment on proposals to introduce a weekly “kerbside sort recycling service” with the range of materials that can be recycled extended, including plastic tubs, pots and food trays and Tetra Pak, and the introduction of three-weekly black bag collection.

The number of black bags residents can put out will be three per household, representing one for each week.

In 2016-17 Pembrokeshire was performing well above the 58% target with a recycling rate of 65% but the report states this has dropped to just under 60% in the first part of this year.

This is “due to changes in the disposal arrangements for our residual waste and reclassification of some wood recycling”.

Targets are due to rise to 64% in 2019-20 and 70% by 2024, with even more challenging targets in discussion.