29 December 2006

Which bin was that again?

My local council had adopted 'recycling' in its refuse collections. There are now two collections which run every 2 weeks, a week out of phase. This means that we have a collection every week.

Tomorrow is the recycling collection:
  • plastics, particularly PET, but no PP, PVC or blown styrene
  • metals (aluminium, steel or coated steel)
  • paper (including newsprint) and carboard providing there are no plastic interlayers
  • compostable rubbish including garden clippings but no raw vegetable waste (?)
Recycling doesn't include glass which is a big volume item, at least in my house.

General waste is everything else. There are already complaints by some of the more pernickety of my neighbours that a 2-week collection cycle for general rubbish means that the bins are malodorous. People are already saying that they rinse more things before they put them in the general waste bins. Now on which planet did we imagine that a move to 'recycling' would result in an increase in the biological oxygen demand (BOD) of waste water? This needs to be checked regularly, because we risk shifting costs onto the water companies which they weren't expecting.

The 'green' revolution seems to be badly misunderstood. eCademy will plant a tree if you become a fee-paying subscriber of its social networking service (and you will be awarded carbon neutral status) while at least one terrestrial news programme in the UK was encouraging viewers to buy natural Christmas trees during December because they were greener than the alternatives. Trainer tip: planting a tree at any time of the year is carbon neutral - the tree absorbs carbon from the atmospere as it grows, but it only becomes a carbon sink if the wood is used for stuctural purposes (furniture or fencing), while any other use releases the carbon back into the atmosphere, the only question is when. Even the furniture or the fencing will result in carbon release at some point in the future. These 'green' arguments are being put forward by scientific illiterates.

Why can't we have a sensible debate about the economics of recycling - glass is already so plentiful that it has almost zero scrap value. There is also plenty of room about a sensible debate about the carbon cycle.

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