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Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Recycling? It’s just a waste

I’VE never felt particularly guilty about the fact that I’m decidedly half-hearted when it comes to the irritating chore that is recycling.

Louise Allonby
Louise Allonby

I leave it to my husband to sort out the plastic from glass and tins, and to struggle down the drive like a packhorse with all the newspapers and wine bottles once a fortnight.

The binmen cometh early to Ireleth – and I lie in bed cringing with mortification when I hear the recycling van pull up outside our house.

The noise made when our green bottles get hurled into the lorry is enough to wake the dead.

The thimble-sized wheelie bin the council allows us is supposed to encourage households to recycle everything possible.

However, I find it so much easier just to lob waste straight into the kitchen bin (or better still on to the fire), that despite my husband’s efforts, our wheelie bin is almost always over-flowing. The bin police will no doubt disapprove.

But so what? Not only do I dislike being bossed by Brussels bureaucrats into recycling every bit of rubbish I wish to discard (for it is from our European rulers that most recycling directives originate), but frankly I’ve got better things to do than spend time agonising about whether to put empty packs of Pedigree Chum into the sack for plastics or the box for tin; or whether I’m allowed to put last year’s Yellow Pages in with a fortnight’s worth of Daily Telegraphs.

The whole issue of recycling is one geared to make us feel guilty.

In supermarkets, when the person at the checkout asks if I require plastic bags, instead of simply replying “yes, please”, I find myself saying “yes, I do, sorry” and then launching into some rambling excuse about how I’ve left all my jute bags in the car boot – and my pantry at home is groaning with enough Bags For Life to last me till the Second Coming.

But we shouldn’t feel guilty, as it now emerges that a lot of recycling is a complete waste of time – with millions of tons of stuff simply going straight into landfill.

A paper (recycled, one assumes) from the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has revealed that the level of rubbish that is recycled has been “exaggerated”, with reprocessing site managers reporting that only “some” or “hardly any” of the recycled stuff sent to them is fit for use – everything else is incinerated or goes into landfill.

So much for reducing our carbon footprint.

The splendidly-named Doretta Cocks of the Campaign for Weekly Waste Collections said: “The more you make people obey complicated rules, the more likely they are to put out contaminated recycling.”

That’ll be me with my Pedigree Chum sachets going in the wrong bin...

And that sums up the problem: recycling has become far too complicated.

Bins for this, bags for that, sacks for the other – it is a most unwelcome form of domestic tyranny.

Recycling? If you ask me, it’s just a load of rubbish.

Have your say

In response to Louise's comment:

If it is collected by a proper waste contractor (all councils and most private waste management companies) then no, it does not end up in landfill. Recyclables nowadays go to MRF's where they can be sorted and sold. There's not a company alive that would rather bury materials that they could otherwise sell to recycling companies.

Posted by K on 21 February 2013 at 16:47

Totally agree with you on this one Louise! And not only does most of it end up in the same landfill after we have all sorted it out...we then use two vans to take it there - which surely is not enviromentally friendly!?

Posted by Louise on 17 February 2013 at 21:07

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