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I know I’ve grumbled about it before but a number of incidents recently have convinced me I’m right – we need a system of single stream/fully co-mingled recycling, rather than the powers that be expecting us to know what can be recycled and in which bin, box or bag it should be placed, wherever we might be in the UK at the time.
China’s new quality standards mean cardboard will only be accepted for recycling if the material is uncontaminated with other waste products. I read a report recently about the enormous volume of ‘carefully’ recycled items sent to landfill rather than being recycled last year because they were contaminated. I can’t for the life of me find it so I can share it with you, but it was enough to make me scratch my head and wonder why we can’t get something right that should really be so simple. And if we couldn’t manage the 1.5% maximum contamination rate that previously applied, how on earth are we going to achieve the 0.5% maximum China’s now demanding?
I’ve looked at a lot of local authorities’ recycling information and there’s little consistency. When people move areas they’re generally faced with a new system. My council swapped the bins and while I can remember that I now have to use a different bin for everything and that I no longer have to separate paper from cardboard but I do now have to separate tins from glass (and put them with the cardboard and paper in the bin that used to be for non-recyclables only) there will be a lot of people who don’t – particularly the elderly who may already be somewhat forgetful.
Some councils are strict and will not empty contaminated recycling bins; fining residents – sometimes quite heavily – who’ve got it wrong. Others don’t seem to bother. Last night I was reading what appeared to be an authoritative piece on what can and can’t be recycled but it contained different information from what I’ve read elsewhere. We need proper information that’s easy to understand and covers everything we might need to discard. We also need consistency – not only within our own councils but from council to council. Surely a nationwide scheme would be easier to run and control?
Plenty of convicted criminals are given community service for their crimes. Why can’t some of them serve their time sorting our recyclables under the strict supervision of experienced waste management experts, to ensure that our waste is free from contamination, as it should be?
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1st February 2018