Recycling and all that…

Well.. there you have it. The government’s recycling plans aren’t really working terribly effectively. (Anyone surprised? It is a difficult thing to get just right.)

This BBC report 0f 19.7.07, MPs criticise bin collection plan, drags the facts together quite nicely. (I’m not aware, at this point of a report on the state of affairs in Northern Ireland but I’d bet they wouldn’t be much different.) The Commons Local government committee are worried that the government approach is too timid and could encourage fly tipping. Their report also makes these points:-

It called for research into the effects of collecting food waste less often.bin4.jpg

It claimed recycling schemes often “confused” the public.

The government has said it wants the UK to stop “lagging behind” on recycling.

About 140 councils in England have adopted alternate week collection schemes. Recycling is taken one week and other non-recyclable household waste – including food – the next. Critics say kitchen waste is left to rot for up to a fortnight and encourages vermin such as rats and flies to flourish.

The MPs added: “Research has found no public health risk, but wider research is required to convince the public.”

But some councils had “blundered into” introducing alternate weekly collections, “without adequately informing local householders and council tax payers”.

Now… many of these points ring a bell with me? I struggle at times to understand what can be recycled and what can not. Are plastic bags recyclable at the moment? What is the difference between a plastic bag and a plastic bottle? Why is one suitable for recycling while the other is not? Can a baked bean tin be recycled? And if I have to wash it out first am I using more resources than I’m saving by recycling?

Frankly… I’m a wee bit lost but.. before the council police come looking for me…. I am trying very hard to do the right thing! Sadly, when I ask other people they all have a different list of items that are allowed or not allowed in the green/blue bin. So I figure I’m not the only confused person around here!

On this occasion I think this commons committee are right on the money. We need to be really clear on what can be saved and what cannot. But…. the reality is that there is confusion in the publicity message and patchiness in the delivery of information. We also need to really really be careful about the possibilities of disease being spread by poorly operated procedures. There is no point in saving a few tins if the overall effect is to cause the death of a few thousand people through some massive epidemic brought on by an explosion in the vermin population… is there?

So… what’s your take on this? What’s your experience of NI recycling? How are our councils doing?

Time to add you opinion……


One Response to Recycling and all that…

  1. talkni says:

    I used to feel a wee bit lonely ‘cos I’m not too sure what to recycle and when and how and why! But not when you read the opinions of ordinary people faced with a visit by the “bin police” as reported in this BBC piece:-
    Out on patrol with the bin police ( )

    One of these council workers explains one of the problems:-

    “Mr Hatcher (Talkni note: he’s the bin cop.)says one of the biggest problems is that people collect the recyclable items in a plastic bag, and then put the whole lot in the bin – but plastic bags are classed as “contamination”.

    “But the thing that confuses people is the recycling logo. It means so many different things to many different people.”

    Ah…… another layer of the onion skin is peeled away! Read the story in full. It’s well worth it.

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