Controversial new recycling rules will quadruple the cost of dealing with waste for cash-strapped care homes across Wales, it’s been revealed.

Georgie Llewelyn, whose family have run the Penpergwm House Residential Care Home, near Abergavenny, for over 30 years, says they could face bills of over £1,000 a month thanks to the Welsh Government’s new policy.

Georgie, the general manager of the 34-bed care home claims the new legislation will have an enormous impact on care homes which have complex recycling needs.

The new rules will come into force on April 6 and will require all businesses as well as charities and public sector organisations to sort their waste for recycling on site – although the NHS has a two-year exemption.

She said: “Up until now we have been using a very good company, Thomas Waste Management, who have been collecting all our recyclable material and separating it at their site but they’ve written to us and told us they will no longer be able to do that and in future will only collect the black sacks of mixed residual waste.

“We have been paying them £250 a month to collect from our two 1100-litre bins with clinical waste collected separately by a specialist company and at the same time we’ve been incinerating our paper and cardboard.

“I have had one quote which was for £150 a week plus VAT and that doesn’t cover the paper and cardboard which will also have to be collected. It’s going to cost us over £1,000 a month.

“We have waste bins in each resident’s room and these are emptied every day and bins around the home which are emptied three times a day but many of our residents have dementia and just don’t understand recycling so it will just be something else for our very busy staff to deal with.

“We are not a large care home but what will this be like for big care homes of 60 to 100 beds?

“At this time of year we are having to put prices up and we will have to consider the cost of the new recycling arrangements so the people that will really suffer will be our residents and their families and it’s going to be hugely expensive.

“The bins Welsh Government are suggesting are only suitable for a domestic household but we have 34 people here being served food five times a day and the suggestion is that we will only need a 240-litre wheelie bin.

“That fills me with horror because having that in a bin area is just going to attract rats so there are real health issues.

“Time is ticking now and because our long-term recycling company have been forced to abandon collecting recyclable waste we are going to have to pay through the nose and face the prospect in this rural area of having about five massive bin lorries turning up here every week.

“It will mean us sourcing the kind of bins and what colour they have to be and we can’t afford to have too few, finding a supplier for them and making arrangements for collections by a national company we have never dealt with before.

“The first we heard about this was at the end of November, we had an online webinar event to learn more about it in February and now we find ourselves having just weeks to make these arrangements because it all has to be done by April 6.”

She has written to her local Senedd Member, Peter Fox, and to the four Regional Members and is being backed by Care Forum Wales, the body which represents over 500 independent care providers in Wales.

Their Chair, Mario Kreft MBE said: “They’ve given the NHS in Wales two years to comply with this change but care homes, which have just staggered out of four years of pandemic don’t even get a year to adjust.

“They’ve been through this dreadful pandemic and kept hospitals functioning by taking hundreds of people off their hands and into the community so we need the Minister, Julie James, to tell us why there is an exemption for the NHS.

“That is because organising it is going to be difficult and the cost will be enormous but it is OK to put that on care homes who will have to increase their fees and take on more responsibility.

“The First Minister has described the social care sector as  the scaffold which supports the NHS and I don’t think anyone has given any serious thought to the care homes of Wales or how that scaffold should remain in place.

“Around 90 per cent of social care is publicly funded through councils or health boards but and the extra cost placed on care homes should be factored in to the fees paid to them.

“The NHS is being made a special case and will be given two years’ grace before starting to do this and fairness dictates the social care sector should undoubtedly be treated in the same way.

“As well as the extra financial burden, there is also going to be a heavy cost in terms of staff time and it will impact care homes in the same way as it does hospitals

“All of this comes at a time when care homes are struggling with other unnecessary changes after the pandemic on top of suffering the effects of chronic underfunding by councils and health boards for decades.

“The sector has suffered enough – it’s on its knees. This is not a kind or intelligent thing to do.

“Apart from any practical considerations, placing this unfair additional financial burden on care homes is ill-considered and unjust. This blanket application of the new rules is plain crazy.

“The First Minister Mark Drakeford pointed out that the social care sector was in a fragile state even before the pandemic struck.

“The economic viability of many care homes is now even more precarious so this policy could  have catastrophic unintended consequences and could in some cases push some of them over the edge of the financial precipice.”