March on for Recycling Changes 2019 – Frequently Asked Questions

Why do things keep changing?

The recycling industry is constantly changing. Changes in legislation, population, waste composition, emerging technologies and world markets all have an impact on our local recycling collection systems. When resources are re-used and recycled this contributes to the ‘circular economy’.


Why do we have to separate our glass into a recycling box?

Keeping the glass out of the recycling bags ensures that we get better quality recycling. Materials that are collected separately are more easily recycled and are more valuable to re-processors. When our recycling materials are of good, clean quality, they can be recycled into higher value products.

Do I have to pay for my box?

No, all residents will be supplied with a container for their glass for free.

What type of glass can I put in the recycling box?

We can collect all types of glass bottles and jars. We cannot collect any sheet glass from windows or greenhouses, Pyrex or crockery, or drinking glasses (all these materials can be recycled at our recycling centres).

Do the glass containers have to be washed first?

Yes please, rinsing them first to remove any liquid or food waste helps our collection crews and reprocessors. It also keeps your box clean.

Do I need to remove the lids from the bottles and jars?

It’s preferable but not essential to remove the lids. Leave the lids in the glass the box. The lids will be recycled with the glass.

Where do I put broken glass?

To avoid injury, broken glass should be carefully wrapped in paper and placed in your rubbish bag.

What if a glass bottle breaks when I am filling my box?

If glass breaks when filling the box, don’t worry we will collect it.

Can I have more than one recycling box?

Yes, but we do ask you to try it out for a few weeks first to ensure you do need one. The box has a 44 Litre capacity and the feedback from the trial was that this was more than enough for most residents. Glass will be collected fortnightly. If you cannot manage with one box and need a second recycling box please email us at, ring us on 01633 644644 or visit your local community hub to order a box to be delivered. Community hubs will not be stocking boxes as they do not have storage space.

Can I have a lid for the box?

Sorry we are unable to provide lids for the glass boxes. Lids/nets are normally provided for recycling boxes when they contain materials that may blow away or be damaged by getting wet.

Will my box fill up with rainwater?

The boxes have small holes in each corner so that rainwater can drain away. Bottles and jars can be placed in the box upside down/lying down to prevent them filling with water.

The glass recycling box is too large for me to carry.

For elderly or disabled residents who are unable to carry a glass recycling box, we can offer a smaller box with one handle for ease of carrying.

Why have some residents been given a different type of glass recycling box?

Residents living in a flat or sheltered housing complex may be provided with a smaller glass recycling box with a handle (similar to food waste box). Some sheltered housing complexes may be provided with a larger communal bin specifically for glass.

What happens to the glass once it has been collected?

Our collection crews take the glass containers to our transfer stations at Llanfoist and Five Lanes and it is transported to a reprocessor in Cwmbran where the glass is sorted and then used to make new glass products and insulation.

What about glass from my business?

Businesses who are registered with us for commercial red and purple recycling bag collections, can request boxes for glass.

Can I still put glass in my purple recycling bags?

No sorry, we will be unable to collect recycling bags that contain glass. Our crews have been told to leave these bags and to place stickers on them explaining the reason why.

What if my bags have been stickered?

If your bags have been stickered, please remove the glass or other unwanted items and we will collect your sorted recycling on the next collection round.

What is the box made of?

The box is made from 75% recycled plastic material.

What is the capacity of the box?

The box has a 44 Litre capacity.

We had the black box recycling scheme in the past, why did you change from this and now you are going back to a box for glass recycling?

The recycling market is constantly changing and the Council have to try and meet the needs of the recycling industry and also provide services that are acceptable to our residents. The black box recycling scheme was superseded by the red and purple bags, around 7 years ago, at a time when the value of the recycling market was at its peak. This meant that we could collect the recycling mixed together much cheaper than separating it at the kerbside and the market covered the costs of separation at material recycling facilities. This position has changed dramatically and we need to keep the materials separate at the kerbside to maximise value and reduce our costs. In hindsight the original black box scheme was probably the better system but participation was very low and residents wanted a simpler solution with the move to fortnightly waste collections. Times have moved on and recycling is much more mainstream and a part of everyone’s life. We have tried to make these changes as easy as possible and hope that residents understand the importance of recycling and continue to participate in such high numbers.

Glass recycling trial and survey

The change to collect glass in a separate box follows the successful glass recycling trial of over 6500 properties in the Abergavenny area in 2016. The households in the area have continued to use the box for glass collection.

A survey was done to get resident’s feedback from the glass recycling trial.

We received 410 responses from online, postal and face to face surveys.

Here are some of the findings from the surveys:


Do you use the glass recycling box?

Yes – 94%

No 6%

How often do you put the box out?

Weekly – 26%

Fortnightly – 27%

Less often than fortnightly – 47%

Are you happy with the container?

Yes – 70%

No – 30%

Are you happy with the new recycling service?

Yes – 86%

No – 14%

During the two year trial in Abergavenny the majority of residents managed with one glass box and most put it out for collection either fortnightly or less frequently.

General Questions

What time does my rubbish and recycling need to be out?

Please ensure all you’re recycling and rubbish is out on the kerbside by 7.00am on the morning of collection. Do not place rubbish or recycling out any earlier than the evening before your collection is due. This can result in unnecessary litter if your bags are ripped open.

Can I arrange for an assisted collection?

If you are elderly, disabled or struggle to take your waste to the kerbside, please contact us and we will do our best to arrange an assisted collection. We have to take into account steps, narrow or long driveways and access paths.

Why have my collection days changed?

Our new vehicles are bigger and are able to collect more materials together in different compartments. New collection routes had to be created for the new vehicles which will fill at a different rate and ratio to our old vehicles.

Why have I now got more than one collection day?

We are reducing the number of collection vehicles that pass your house but collecting in separate compartments does restrict our ability to collect everything on the same day.

Why are my new days not showing online?

New collection days will available online from 4th March. The system will be updated on the weekend before.

Why have you bought new vehicles?

Our old collection vehicles have reached the end of their life (usually about 7 years) and have to be replaced. New vehicles were planned for and ordered last year. Our new vehicles have separate compartments for different types of waste.

The benefits of the new vehicles are:

    • New vehicles with separate compartments for different types of materials.
    • Allowing us to collect better quality, higher value materials for recycling.
    • Improved efficiency with reduced number of vehicles on the road.
    • Few vehicles passing each property.

Food Waste

What’s new?

Residents can now reuse their old plastic bags such as bread bags, frozen food bags and cereal bags as liners in their food waste caddies.

What type of bags should I use?

Wherever possible please use food waste bags provided by the authority (either the current starch bags or the new plastic bags which are due to replace the starch ones very soon).

In the event that a resident should run out, they may reuse old plastic bags. Suitable examples include bread bags, sandwich/freezer bags or thin carrier bags (please do not use the thick ‘bag for life’ type bags).

Residents should avoid ‘double bagging’ of the food waste and should not include rigid plastic containers.

What are the benefits?

We hope that this will help more residents recycle their food waste more easily. It also saves people the effort of getting council supplied bags and gives another use to bags which might have otherwise ended up as rubbish.

Why have you changed things?

Anaerobic digestion is the preferred option of the Welsh Government because it is so much more efficient. Traditional composting produces a similar product but without the electricity generation. It also allows the separately collected garden waste (with no food) to be composted on local farms – further reducing the cost of processing and keeping this stream local.

Monmouthshire is working in partnership with neighbouring local authorities to send our food waste to a regional food waste facility in Bridgend.

How does the new process work?

Anaerobic digestion mimics the working of a cow’s gut. Food is digested in giant tanks using natural bacteria and the methane gas produced is captured (unlike the cow!) and burnt to generate electricity. A by-product of this process is a rich fertiliser which is used to spread on local farmland.

How much energy is generated at the anaerobic digestion plant?

The Bridgend facility produces enough electricity to power a town the size of Abergavenny, Chepstow, Monmouth or Caldicot.

Why is it now ok to use plastic bags as food waste liners?

Monmouthshire’s food waste was previously sent for ‘in vessel composting’ where the corn starch food waste bags could be fully composted as part of the process.

However, the anaerobic digestion process is very different to composting and cannot deal with any type of food waste bag – so they are removed before the digestion process begins.

What happens to the bags?

Once removed, the bags are then squeezed dry and sent to Cardiff’s ‘energy from waste plant’ to produce more electricity.

Will I still be able to get council food waste bags?

Yes, food waste bags will still be available from Community Hubs. The new bags will look the same as the old ones but will be made from recycled plastic.

I’ve still got old council food waste bags left – can I still use them?

Yes, it makes sense to use up your old food waste bags wherever possible.

Is it still ok to put in kitchen roll/paper in the food waste caddy?

Yes, it’s fine to carry on putting kitchen roll/paper in your food waste caddy.

Can I line my caddy with paper bags or newspapers?

Yes, it’s fine to use paper bags or newspapers instead of a bag to line your food waste caddy.

Do I still have to remove any plastic packaging from my food waste?

If the food waste is in a plastic bag (such as an old bag of potatoes or bread) there is no need to remove it. Other packaging such as food trays must be removed.

Why don’t you keep the old compostable bags?

Compostable bags require air and light to help break them down. The anaerobic digester operates in the dark and in the absence of air so cannot process compostable bags. All bags are separated from the food and burnt to produce electricity. So, ideally we would like to see all those old plastic bags being re-used rather than expensive compostable bags. Compostable bags are also more difficult for the plant to separate as they sticky when warm.

How does this fit with Monmouthshire working towards plastic free status?

In June 2018, Monmouthshire pledged to become a ‘Plastic Free Council’. So, we are trying to reduce our own use of single use plastics whilst encouraging our residents to do the same. However, when it comes to food waste recycling, reusing old plastic bags that might have ended up as rubbish, seems to make sense. Reusing the bags in this way can save time, money and resources. After being used as food waste caddy liners they will be sent to an energy from waste plant in Cardiff plant where they are used to generate electricity.

Can I put fat, oil and grease in my food waste caddy?

Yes, small amounts of fat, oil and grease can go in. Kitchen paper can help soak up small amounts. Large amounts of cooking oil can be taken to Five Lanes or Llanfoist household waste recycling centres. Never pour these down the sink.


Why is there a 2 bag limit for rubbish?

  • At least 70% of household rubbish is recyclable.
  • We collect these materials every week in red and purple bags.
  • It is better for the environment.
  • It is cheaper to recycle household rubbish than it is to send it to an ‘energy from waste’ plant.
  • It makes more sense to spend diminishing council budgets on education and social care than dealing with unsorted household rubbish.

I have a large family – can I put out more than 2 bags?

Most households can manage with the two bag limit but if you are a large family, you can request a Recycling Officer visit who may be able to offer an extra allowance.

What about ash?

Ash can be bagged put in a small additional dustbin and we will collect it. Please make sure the ashes are cold and not too heavy for our crews to lift.

Can I have a wheeled bin?

No, Monmouthshire is a bag collection authority.


Nappy and Hygiene Waste

How many bags of nappies or hygiene waste can I place out for collection?

You may place out as many bags as you need, there is no restriction.

I only have a few nappies

Small quantities of nappies or hygiene waste can go in your black bag if you have room.

What can I put in the yellow bags?

Nappy waste and hygiene waste and related products such as wet wipes etc. But yellow bags that contain any household rubbish will not be collected.


Why don’t you recycle nappy waste?

Very few companies have recycling facilities for this type of waste and currently it is not cost effective for Monmouthshire.


Do you promote washable nappies?

Yes, Monmouthshire supports parents who choose to use washable nappies as they are better for the environment and can save parents hundreds of pounds compared to the cost of disposables.


Can you provide a sample to try?

Yes, we can provide a washable nappy sample for parents. To request a sample email us at

Do you offer discount to Monmouthshire parents buying a set of washable nappies?

Yes, we can offer a £30 discount when buying a birth to potty set through Little Treasures in Abergavenny.  Total cost around £130.

Red and Purple Bag Recycling

Why are you introducing reusable bags for recycling?

Most households will receive red and purple reusable bags for their recycling later in 2019. This will reduce the amount of single use bags we buy and will improve the quality of the material we collect for recycling.

Will our red and purple bags still be collected weekly?

Recycling in red and purple bags will continue to be collected weekly.

Will everybody have their recycling collected at the same time as their food waste on the same vehicle?

Most households will have food waste and recycling collected at the same time but on new vehicles with separate compartments.

But – Rural areas are again likely to be serviced by smaller vehicles.

When will the new bags will be delivered?

Most households will receive reusable bags for their recycling later in 2019.

When was this decision taken?

Councillors voted to move to reusable bags on January 10th 2019.

Will the new red and purple bags be blown around by the wind and allow litter to escape?

The proposed red and purple bags will be weighted and will have a lid or seal so there shouldn’t be as many issues with wind-blown bags or litter. The pictures in the leaflet are illustrative only and the bags being purchased will not allow recycling to escape.

How can we recycle shredded paper with the new bags?

The proposed red and purple bags will be weighted and will have a lid or seal so there shouldn’t be as many issues with wind-blown bags or litter. The pictures in the leaflet are illustrative only and the bags being purchased will not allow recycling to escape. We would also suggest that you could insert any shredded paper into a paper bag or envelope to ensure there is no spillage.

Will there be a limit on the number of recycling bags you can have?

There is no limit on recycling, residents can have as many bags they need. The bags will hold more material than the plastic bags and the glass will no longer be in the recycling bags. Most residents will find that 1 red bag and 1 purple bag will be suitable but if residents can have more if required.

Garden Waste

How often is garden waste collected?

Garden waste is collected every week from the beginning of March to the end of November.

How much does it cost?

£18 for the 9 months that the service operates.

Why is it no longer a year- round service?

During the winter months there is a substantial reduction in use by residents which means the service is underutilised and inefficient. Continued pressure on council budgets meant that we either had to increase the cost to cover a full year service or deliver a seasonal service at the same cost. County Councillors reviewed the options and voted to offer a seasonal garden waste service.

Will my food waste still be collected at the same time as my garden waste?

No, garden waste must be kept separate as it is sent to a local farm in Abergavenny for composting.

Can I put food waste in my garden waste bag?

No, all kitchen food waste, including peelings must be put in your food waste box and not in the garden waste bag. Garden waste is composted on a local farm and must not contain any kitchen food waste.

Why do I have to pay for garden waste collections?

There is no legislative duty to collect garden waste and under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 councils can make a charge to recover collection costs.

Does the Council make money from selling the compost?

No, the council is only allowed to recover costs for garden waste collection. We have to manage the disposal costs without passing on these charges to residents. Disposal costs are currently in excess of £210,000 per year.

What’s the best way to deal with my garden waste?

Wherever possible, the best way to deal with garden waste is to compost your garden waste at home. Home compost bins can be purchased from a local garden centre or DIY shop.

What else can I do with my garden waste?

Garden waste can be taken to your local household waste recycling centre.

Will seasonal collections result in more fly tipping?

Neighbouring authorities who provide a seasonal garden waste collection have not seen an increase in fly tipping.

Household Waste Recycling Centres

What’s happening with the Household Waste Recycling Centres?

The proposal is to close all sites for 1 or 2 days per week.

The proposal is Usk would close 2 days, Troy would close 2 days and Llanfoist and Five Lanes would close 1 day. The closures would be midweek and we will endeavour to ensure that sites that are closest to each other are open when the other is closed. E.g. Usk and Troy wouldn’t close on the same days.

Will Troy still close for skip movements, will closing for 2 days make the site even busier?

Troy is not an ideal site and there is very little opportunity to improve the lay out. We have invested in better machinery for rolling the skips so hopefully this will speed up the process. We are also proposing to introduce free permits for all MCC residents to stop cross border waste. At present 15% of people using the sites are from out of county. If the sites are only being used by MCC residents we hope that the skip movements will be less.

I’m worried the part time closures will increase fly tipping?

We understand your concerns but have not taken the proposal to lightly. We know that neighbouring counties that have closed sites have not reported an increase in fly tipping.

The sites will still be open a minimum of 50hrs per week and on weekends. The waste team will monitor fly tipping and will use the new legislation allows fixed penalty notices to be issued for small scale fly tipping, we will issue Fixed Penalty Notices and prosecute where fly tipping is discovered.

What are the permits for?

The permits will reduce cross border waste traffic. This is estimated to be around 3000 tonnes of waste every year. The permits will be issued FREE to every Monmouthshire household, can be stored in the car and put on the dash when entering the sites. The permits will mean that site staff can easily identify Monmouthshire residents and challenge everyone else.

What happens if I lose my permit?

If you lose your permit you can show your driving license while you apply for another permit.