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I received a press release today from Resource Efficiency & Waste Management Solutions, highlighting a debate on the forthcoming EU referendum. The expert speaking on behalf of ‘Bremain’ discussed the improvements we have made in waste and recycling as a result of EU membership.
Although I’m not suggesting that the speaker thinks this way, his words reminded me of how disturbed I am to think that people, in general, believe that if Britain left the EU, we would revert to the old ways of doing things – simply forgetting the progress we’ve made (and which we may have made anyway, whether we were members of the EU or not). I like to think that we’ve all learned and we’ve all improved – globally – over the past few decades and that we will all continue to do so.
Of course, waste is an enormous problem and one that’s going to worsen as our planet’s population grows. We are making improvements but there’s a long way to go and with local councils all over the globe, having – in general – less money to spend, it’s going to get tougher.
During the week I took some recyclables to my local council tip – normally open until 20:00 in Summer, only to be told – at just before 16:00 – that it was about to close. I knew local authorities were consulting with residents on ways to reduce costs by cutting these facilities’ opening hours, but find it odd that my fellow residents have opted for a 16:00 finish, rather than complete closure on one weekday. People have queued for almost two hours during busy periods and one resident died following an altercation resulting from a queue jumping incident. Closing before most people even get home from work and thus preventing a quick early evening trip to the dump is going to exacerbate the situation and lead to increased fly tipping and the mixing of recyclables with general waste – all of which will increase costs as well as landfill requirements.
Landfill itself is a huge issue and a decades-long study in the Lazio region of Central Italy, on 242,409 residents within 5km of nine municipal waste landfills, has just concluded that exposure to landfills is associated with mortality from lung cancer and respiratory diseases and with hospitalisations for respiratory diseases, in both adults and children: www.ije.oxfordjournals.org
Our move towards a circular economy just can't come soon enough, can it?
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26th May 2016