Time for a rethink on how we recycle

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WHILE it’s highly commendable that government initiated a kerbside recycling project to help conserve the planet’s resources, in practice the actual savings made are debatable and in the present economic climate the scheme is a bit of a luxury.

Perhaps it’s time to look at the overall picture of how our rubbish is collected, disposed of and paid for.

The present system of local authorities including in the rates a set fee for emptying a domestic wheelie-bin, is both unfair and counter to any recycling initiative.

Unfair because it requires that households with a low volume of rubbish effectively subsidise households that throw away a lot and counter to recycling because the set fee is an incentive to chuck everything in the bin regardless – it just encourages us to be lazy.

Commercial premises already have to pay for their rubbish collection by weight, bin wagons are equipped to both identify the bin through a chip reader and to weigh the contents. This data is recorded and goes on to make up the invoice for the customer.

This system could be applied to domestic users: firstly, by taking the business of refuse collection away from local authorities and discounting that element from the rates; secondly, by creating an all-island waste department which would charge customers by the weight of refuse in the bin – after all, this is how the waste is charged for at the incinerator.

There would then exist the incentive for households to save money by recycling bottles, paper, etc, and no longer would frugal households have to subsidise wasteful ones.

Kerbside recycling could then be abolished and replaced with a single large facility at each of the civic amenity sites, making collection and export more economical.

Of course, the best way of reducing waste is to not buy so much packaged stuff in the first place.

When I grew up drinks came in recycled bottles, meals were cooked rather than microwaved or bought from a takeaway, and old newspapers were used to light the fire. It’s our laziness as consumers that has created this situation.

DAVID BUTTERY

Douglas

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