For those new to CabbieBlog or readers who are slightly forgetful, on Saturdays I’m republishing posts, many going back over a decade. Some will still be very relevant while others have become dated over time. Just think of this post as your weekend paper supplement.
No room at the bin (10.04.09)
I don’t know how it happened, but I used only to put out the rubbish once a week, a simple task which took but a few minutes.
Now I have been promoted by Cabbie Wife to Chief Recycler. I spend a lot of time every week recycling rubbish. Newspapers and plastic bottles have to go in one box, but yellow pages for some inexplicable reason are unacceptable, wine bottles to go to the glass bank, not to mention leaves, cut grass and other garden waste collected separately. In the busy life of CabbieBlog it eats up between half an hour and an hour a week spent recycling.
Apparently I’m only member of the household who can perform this important task. If asked to get rid of a carton or bottle, which seldom happens, they peer at it as though they have never seen such an object before.
Millions of us have to recycle and we live in daily fear of being fined by officious council representatives for getting our bins in a muddle, putting out rubbish on a wrong day, or just putting the bins in the wrong place.
I still harbour a distant hope that in doing so I may somehow be helping the planet by ensuring that too many nasty tins and bottles aren’t buried in Britain’s green and pleasant land and thereby stopping polar bears drown in the Arctic.
According to Peter Jones, an expert on waste, who advises the Mayor of London, “the global warming impact of putting material through an incinerator five miles down the road is actually less than recycling it 3,000 miles away”. So there you have it, fewer greenhouse gases are produced if you burn rubbish locally than if you sort it and send it halfway around the world.
Now as a result of the current precarious state of the world’s economy, there is a collapse in the market value of recyclable waste and many waste disposal firms are having to stockpile paper, metals and plastics in vast warehouses because they are unable to sell them on. This means that the rubbish I spend hours struggling to sort out every day may, in fact, never be recycled because it is not economic to do so.
The Government and local councils are fully aware of the shortcomings of recycling, and yet they do not share their reservations with us. They seek to impose ever more draconian penalties. We have to do what we are told, whereas many councils do as they choose by collecting kitchen rubbish once a fortnight, as opposed to once a week, as used to be the rule. So we are bullied and intimidated and threatened by the authorities who, meanwhile, have the nerve to set aside their own traditional obligations. I have recently received a letter with a veiled threat of prosecution under the Environmental Protection Act 1990. Yet they know that recycling is a very imperfect process, and use the law to ensure that we carry it out on pain of a fine, one can only conclude that they love ordering our lives to the tiniest degree.
Most of us would cheerfully give up our time to recycle if we thought it was beneficial to the environment. But it is impossible to respect a Government that privately acknowledges the shortcomings of recycling – and whose adviser openly expresses his doubts – while it treats a small infraction in our kitchens as a crime.