18 4 mins 12 yrs

Well then, the BBC called earlier to cancel/postpone the discussion on recycling so I though I would use this forum to kick it off!

Here’s where I stand. I want a green and pleasant land. I want to see waste managed efficiently and in a way that causes least harm to the environment. I bet you share these aims – what sensible person would not? It’s all about HOW we achieve this.

A lot of the focus these days is on what WE – the householder – should be doing. How many different recycling bins should we have? Are we to be punished if we choose not to recycle? Who should be doing the recycling – State of Private sector? What is best practise? Has the State the right to go through our household refuse to see what we are doing? Are Bin Inspectors or sensors on bins acceptable intrusion into our private lives?  

I happen to believe that more attention should be put on the producers of modern disposable products and they should be encouraged financially to reduce packaging or else alter it in ways that reduce waste. I would like to see the State agencies kept OUT of the waste collection business (and it IS business) because they are grossly inefficient. I want to see weekly waste collections as fortnightly are both unhygienic and a diminution of service level, paid for by my rates. I object to slops going into a special slops bin on the basis it is also unhygienic, if  not Third World. I think local Councils are all over the place in their recycling policies and I object to them TELLING me what I will do.

In fact, in this entire issue, my single biggest gripe is that of being berated into behaviour that officialdom (The EU in particular) deems acceptable. This is petty tyranny. Recycling should be voluntary. People should  be encouraged to recycle, through financial incentive. The dead hand of local Government needs taken out of it. The diktat approach currently in place needs recycled.

Of course when we review what currently happens in the Recycling Industry we see massive contradictions. Many local Councils boast of their recycling efforts but are unable to state where the recycled products go to. A slow boat to China is often the answer. The entire landfill/recycle issue is also one that is far from settled with new technologies opening up exciting possibilities for improved landfill options (ones that of course the little Hitlers in the EU deny.)

We all seek to be responsible citizens and we all share a desire to keep this land a green and pleasant place. A proliferation of rubbish bins on every corner is not the answer. Bin Inspectors are not the answer. 

What say you?

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18 thoughts on “THE ATW RECYCLING DEBATE

  1. BBC? Dave why are you feeding the corporate backside that is the BBC. The BBC is a clear case for recycling. Close it sell off the assets and salt the ground!

  2. Is it possible that we could generate at least as much power by incinerating rubbish as we could by relying on windpower? Seems a sensible solution to me but then I am only a woman! Kill two birds with one stone so to speak.

    I too loathe the pressure to recycle. It most definitely should be voluntary and rewarded by a financial incentive. The petty town hall tyrants wield their power by leaving bins on the pavement if they find a whiff of something in the wrong bin. Ugh!

  3. "Is it possible that we could generate at least as much power by incinerating rubbish as we could by relying on windpower?"

    The are actually looking at that. A Government report was looking at incenerating almost 25% of all waste by 2020. The problem is that it produces Carbon Dioxide. All the current regulations are about cutting Carbon emmissions (not cutting harmful gas emmission). Incenerating rubbish is actually less enviornmentally harmful than landfilling it.

  4. Certain scientists believe it is linked to Global Warming. Governments, rightly or wrongly, believe those scientists and instead of trying to limit enviornmentally unsafe gasses (such as methane produced by landfills) they have gone on a Carbon crusade.

  5. David –

    I fail to see how you can object to green waste or slops being re-cycled separately as this is something that has been happening through tthe generations. What farm was without a "midden" or "druckle", depending where you are from, where all organic waste was stored and returned to the land.
    The modern equivalent is to re-cycle this waste in a controlled environment and reuse as compost for the horticultural sector and avoid depleting peat reserves further. You do seem to object to things on a principle rather than even consider them as alternatives,

  6. Kaido

    A farm is not the same as an inner city. That’s why. Are you suggesting that built up tenements are the ideal spot for rotting food to be left out….? I agree with what you say as regards rural environments but not urban environment.

  7. object to slops going into a special slops bin

    Don’t you all have garbage disposals in your kitchen sinks? Most people in the states run their slop through the disposal then it’s treated at the waste water sewage plant or they toss it on their personal compost piles for their own gardening needs.

    Slop bins sound very nasty and, yes, unhygienic.

  8. Speaking with some knowledge of recycling in NI, it is disgusting what the small minority of people dispose of in their recycling bin. Nappies are a regular occurance (by which I mean maybe 30 or so an hour in a plant operating 16 hours a day – how many is that?), along with unfinished carry-out meals, rotting vegtables and the odd family cat or dog which have departed this life. That is why someone must police the bins, and correctly leave them where they stand if they are contaminated. Please remember that real live people are at the end of the conveyor belt whenever your bin’s contents come along.

    If it was operated correctly and efficiently, it would mean a reduction in everyone’s Rates bill as it costs less than half to dispose of your recycling bin than it costs to landfill it. Councils are large innefficient organisations who operate in the luxurious position of not having to make a profit, or indeed justify their costs. Need more money rather than being efficient? Increase the rates. Simples!!

    Northern Ireland is due to be fined around £400 million by the EU for their lack of progress in the amount of waste which was sent to landfill in 2009. And from every tonne of landfill which goes into the ground, the Government pockets £48.00 – and this will increase by £8.00 per year for the next 5 years. Still think your rates are expensive, and you can’t be bothered recycling????

  9. Do it the Swiss way. That is wholly private – you pay for bags (different sizes available from the supermarkets) and (in our alpine village) fill it and take it to the local depot when full. In larger towns the bags are collected once a week.

    It’s pretty much up to you as to what you put in the bag – anything goes but in order to avoid cost, larger things, bottles, tins, clothes etc etc can all be left in the relevent containers.

    So recycling is encouraged by financial incentive just as you want David.

    All extremely efficient, as you would expect – just like the entirely private health service.

  10. Seamus,

    A Government report was looking at incenerating almost 25% of all waste by 2020. The problem is that it produces Carbon Dioxide.

    Pretty much any means of disposing of rubbish produces CO2 (the issue is how much relative to other options – anyway a tax on carbon means that problem solves itself.) The problem with incineration is that it produces other nasties as well. That said the Dutch have a pretty pragmatic attitude to the whole thing and they do incinerate stuff as a last resort.

    The very best means of dealing with rubbish is to produce less of it in the first place. For that you need some price on the amount of rubbish you produce, and yes that means somehow it must be measured, just like the amount of electricity you use is measured and supermarkets take a look at what you are taking out of the store. None of these things are an invasion of privacy.

  11. just like the entirely private health service

    The entirely private, and successful Swiss health service? The one that the Swiss public really likes?

    Which however is regulated by the Swiss govt, which requires all to be covered I believe

    See, no conflict between govt and private concerns when you do it right.

  12. Phantom,

    The entirely private, and successful Swiss health service?

    Which however is regulated by the Swiss govt, which requires all to be covered I believe

    Correct – more than that though, it is regulated up the wazoo. Not just compulsory purchasing of insurance but obligations on the insurers too.

    See, no conflict between govt and private concerns when you do it right.

    Even the conflict when you do it wrong – or perhaps I should say ‘do it weird’ – is greatly exaggerated. If you measure by efficency (outcomes vs cost) then the NHS is not that far behind the swiss, despite being an inelegant kludge, while the US has always been a huge outlier in any such examination, despite its technical superiority.

    My hunch is that the ability of markets to work around too much government is underestimated by the free market fairy followers just as much as they overestimate its ability to work around too little government.

  13. Recycling should be voluntary.

    Let’s be clear. Anything not recycled goes to landfill. Landfill tends to pollute by seeping into groundwater, and eventually that polluted water flows from our taps. So it is undesirable, even if the number of sites was not limited.

    So we should be making the maximum effort to avoid landfill. I have no problem with incineration, provided the dioxins do not get vented out into the air we breathe.

    But recycling will have to be compulsory to avoid "the tragedy of the commons". It will not work any other way.

    Should it be optional to clean up after your dog when he fouls the footpath?

  14. Peter,

    But recycling will have to be compulsory to avoid "the tragedy of the commons". It will not work any other way.

    Not necessarily, a charge based on what you throw out and the amount of it would work in theory but it would have to be priced to properly reflect all the negative effects.

    Of course if saving that amount is not enough to compensate people for their work and time in recycling they still won’t do it – but in that event I think they would have a perfectly valid case that they shouldn’t have to.

    (edit: at the very least such a person would probably be motivated to pay someone else to do it for them)

  15. Where I live, the only things we recycle are paper, metal, glass and some plastic.

    There does not have to be much enforcement as the people like recycling.

    So long as you don’t go too crazy about it. what’s the big deal?

    Daphne’s comments on garbage disposals is spot on – that’s how you deal with food waste. Believe it or not, those things were illegal in NYC until recently – the gummint thought that the gunk would wreck the pipes or something.

  16. As a fully licensed and state certified transfer station manager I’m happy to report the current trend here in the USA is moving towards more transfer stations and fewer landfills. Transfer stations are replacing many landfills. At a transfer station we look through what gets dumped and separate accordingly. The more valuable recyclables almost never go to landfills and more and more of the least valued recyclables end up being landfilled. Some communities are moving back to placing everything in the same container as the garbage must still be sorted at the transfer station.

    Yes, it’s a dirty job being green.

    That said, as the general manager of a privately owned transfer station, government is both problem and solution. Here in North Carolina, private operators train alongside municipal operators and while I’ve found that municipal operators are the tops in the field, most work for politicians who haven’t a clue.

    PS. Don’t you just love Squarespace?

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