War on Waste

If you live in Gloucestershire you can’t have failed to notice the move to fortnightly bin collections. There is something in the British psyche that just can’t accept this notion.

Although I firmly class myself as a Gloucester lad and I live on the outskirts of that fair city, bizarrely I am in Tewkesbury Borough Council. Tewkesbury is a place I do not associate with and rarely visit, so this irks me somewhat, but that’s a different matter. For the purposes of this blog it means that last week I took delivery of a shiny new wheelie bin for recyclable materials and a ‘food caddie’ for food waste.

Gloucester is slightly ahead of Tewkesbury and the move to fortnightly re-cycling has already begun: so has the whinging.

Firstly let me clarify the concept of fortnightly collections: there are actually collections every week, they just alternate between recyclable and non-recyclable. One early objection was that food left for two weeks would be a health hazard, especially if we should ever get any warm sunny weather, but this is no longer an issue as food caddies are emptied every week.

Does this sound like the end of civilization as we know it to you? No, of course it doesn’t. The fact that you have the taste and intelligence to be reading this blog means that you can see that it is a perfectly sensible solution. Not everyone, however, is so enlightened.

Apparently, as a consequence of the move, residents report that “Bin bags overflowing with rubbish are ‘degrading’ the streets of Barton.” Why? Is it because they are too lazy or stupid to sort their rubbish? Should the council put their plans on hold and begin weekly recycling again to appease these idiots, despite the environmental and cost impact? Of course not. Enforcement officers should identify the culprits and make them clean up their mess. With their tongues.

Of course the story generated an on-line debate, much of which I’m glad to say was perfectly sensible. However a couple of comments picked up by the Citizen included:

“… one cannot help struggle with the notion that the council appears to think that money has to be saved, even if the methods used endanger the health of those they have a duty of care to protect. Is the health of the residents of Gloucester unimportant?”

Has this person never heard of the problem of over-flowing landfills or does he consider these to be less of a health hazard? Does he open his council tax bill each year and say “I wish the council would stop looking for ways to save money”? And since he is a Cheltenham resident why is he sticking his oar in anyway?

Another pearl of wisdom: “…I have no intention whatsoever of using these food caddies, because they will stink foul in no time.”

Why? They are still collected weekly, so why should the food caddie smell more than your normal bin? OK, you can’t use plastic bin liners for obvious reasons, but it doesn’t take much to line them with newspaper or hose them out once in a while.

So, I am no raving Greeny, but all of this sounds perfectly sensible… except, I do have 2 little problems with the general notion of recycling:

1. I recycle everything that I reasonably can, and making it easier for me to do so is good. But surely the best way to cut down landfill is to reduce the use of non-recyclables in the first place. When I do my weekly shop why does the meat have to come in a plastic tray and wrapped, or even double-wrapped, in cellophane? And why do vegetables have to be in plastic bags? It seems ironic that it is the organic produce that is most likely to be wrapped in plastic.

2. Recycling is all very well, but what do we do with it all? It is all very well collecting it, but it needs to be re-used in a method that is more environmentally friendly and, preferably, cheaper than using new resources. Do we really have enough use for all of this paper, cardboard, tin and glass?

So, to recap: everyone stop whinging about bin collections and do your bit, but we can’t do it alone and we need sensible holistic policies to deal with the problem.


About Darrel Kirby

I am what I am.
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