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When I wrote last week’s Leader, I had no idea that a new report was about to be published on ‘waste crime’ (their words). It makes interesting reading and while I was going through it, the phrase ‘papering over the cracks’ came to mind. I’ve always been the type who won’t take a painkiller but will instead work out why I’m in pain and deal with the cause, thus eliminating the need to dose my body with chemicals. Likewise, I believe that if we’re spending £millions annually, clearing up illegally dumped waste, which in the meantime is blighting the landscape and creating a hazard, and when it’s cleared tends to go straight to landfill rather than being sorted for recycling, then we need systems in place which will prevent it from being dumped in the first place. This is something that’s not been happening in the UK, with the opening hours of our civic amenity tips being dramatically squeezed and charges brought in - soon, thankfully, to be rescinded - for householders recycling certain waste.
I’ve always advocated the practice of co-mingling (putting all recycling in one bin, to be sorted by an expert) to prevent loads from being contaminated. This would prove particularly useful with plastics which can be difficult to sort properly and would reduce rejection and the need to incinerate. I also believe more materials should be collected – plastic bags in which foods have been supplied, for example, along with torn carrier bags, since these aren’t accepted at many tips. Also, health & safety rules prevent those without vehicles from accessing tips (despite us walking around freely when we’re there!) meaning items are needlessly sent to landfill.
I’ve been saying for years that governments not yet doing so, need to make it easy for us to recycle our waste. If they don’t, they’ll be spending money dealing with the fallout – as this report shows. You can read the summary below and there’s a link to the full report, too. The document also shows the annual increases in landfill costs and while these costs have to be swallowed, however high they go, there’s only so much space for the same thing to happen to our waste. No-one wants to live near a landfill site so we need to stop papering over the cracks and start looking for a long-term solution to the problem; a solution that goes far beyond easing our burden when it comes to recycling and serves to drastically reduce the amount of waste we produce.
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28th April 2022