Waste not, want not!

Posted: 13/02/2013 in Latest Ideas and Opinions
Tags: , , , , ,

Every week we take our bin bags outside and watch as they are removed from our lives by a refuse vehicle. Not thinking about where they will end up, some of us even use the notion that we pay our council tax for this very reason, so we may as well use the service. This post will hopefully encourage more people to stop and think about waste in general and furthermore maybe reduce the need for this weekly service. Although the mere suggestion of this has provoked outrage in the past.

Most people will at this stage, quote figures of some sort. Some will be positive, some will be negative, it just depends which side of the fence you are sitting on. Personally I have worked within the waste industry and have also placed my bin bags out weekly, so I feel I have the knowledge and background to make a neutral opinion on the situation.

First thing I’d like to do is draw your attention to the picture below. It’s not as dramatic as visiting a landfill but it does show a brief insight of what you would see, if you did have the misfortune of visiting one, although I would encourage it, if the opportunity arose.

landfill

Now the first problem with the waste industry in my opinion, is it’s a business sector. The aim is to make a profit, I know they will all have exceptional plans to create environmental, recyclable solutions to any problem but in reality, they all operate more general waste vehicles per depot then any other waste stream. This isn’t always the waste industries fault, after all, if the customers recycled everything they could, the recycling vehicles would be most needed.

Each waste vehicle can hold around 10 tonne of waste and they empty twice a day in some cases. This is an astonishing amount of waste just in the Bude area. Whether it be commercial or household waste, it is just left outside and collected without a second thought.

Whilst working in the industry, I had to lead a team of people to target a well known pub chain who had bins for food, DMR (Dry Mixed Recycling), glass and one general waste bin for anything that wasn’t recyclable. Although all these recycling options were their, they insisted on loading every bin with general waste. The answer from the majority of managers at these establishments was lack of time or staff not listening. Although from a manager who leads by both example and guidance, my staff have always done as I have asked and we worked together to achieve these kinds of objectives.

Unfortunately whilst the government Is getting a large amount of landfill tax per tonne of waste (£80 per tonne by 2014), supposedly to stop us from sending waste to landfill, which is similar to the high level of duty on cigarettes, alcohol and petrol to stop us smoking, drinking and driving our cars, although we all are fully aware of the real reason. Although obtaining planning on other solutions such as incinerators and recycling facilities isn’t always easy.

This is where communities, businesses and local families in areas such as Bude need to set a precedence for being the best in the country for not only recycling but not creating a lot of the waste in the first place. A few ways of doing this could be as follows:

Freecycle type of initiatives
When we have a piece of furniture, a toy or even an old TV, our normal route would be to take it to the Sita site at Bude and throw it into a bulk container. I’ve done my bit, it’ll get recycled you say. But what happens if someone could have used it. Just because you feel like an update, doesn’t mean someone wouldn’t be interested in your old belongings. I’d urge you to put an advert on and see if someone wants it first, it’ll save the cost of your fuel, the diesel of the bulk carrier carrying it around and potentially stop it going to a landfill.

No general waste week in Bude
Why not organise a local no general waste week for the area. Encourage the waste providers to close for the week, no need to collect our general waste because we’re not going to create any. I know this may seem far fetched but what do you actually put in the black bags you place out. Food waste? Don’t cook as much, place it on the plate before you put it in the oven to see if you will eat it all, it works for dieting, it works for waste reduction. Recyclables? These are generally thrown into black bags, the bags are black to identify them, not to hide the sins of throwing away card board, plastic bottles and tins. It’s a possibility.

Waste in Business
Most recyclable waste is cheaper to dispose of then general waste. So why not speak to your waste provider about giving you a free recycling bin to go with that costly general waste bin. Even if it’s a little 240 litre one that you think, I’ll never use that, but you slowly fill it with card and paper waste. Restaurants and cafes, get a food waste bin, the collections are getting more regular and it’s cheaper then general waste. Rats aren’t the problem, effort is the problem from my experience. Office environments, companies will still pay for bailed card or paper and it’s a good rate, create some extra turnover by finding them and selling your own recyclables.

Get the schools involved
Schools are such a positive environment for issues such as waste. Perhaps schools should have recycling bins that encourage the kids to fill with recyclables, it’s a good learning curve for the children and can heavily influence parents at home.

And lastly council tax
Recyclables are worth money, we are like little labourers every fortnight, seperating them all to make the council more money when they sell them on. If Bude could lead the way and get weekly recyclable collections and fortnightly general waste collections, it’d be nice to see this on the bottom line every month in the form of a council tax discount.

So much more could be written but I’m fully aware of the length of the post already, so for now I will end it here. The main point is, let’s make Bude green and an example to the rest of the country, one less black bag to landfill at a time.

Feel free to comment as always and hopefully it will provoke some thought on a subject I am truly passionate about…

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Comments
  1. This post is good, whenever I just visit blogs I comes across some shitty articles written for search engines and irritate users but this information is quite good. It is simple, good and straightforward.

  2. Thanks for the comment. The “shitty” part sent it to my spam originally 🙂

    My blogs are purely to provoke thought and hopefully it has done that. If I overloaded it with figures it becomes a lecture but my main aim is to help people make easy decisions.

    Thanks again.

  3. Debbie C says:

    Another thought provoking article, you’re on a roll!

    Just on the schools’ theme – at my daughter’s old school, they used to insist on packed lunches being as waste free as possible. Being a busy working parent that isn’t easy, but with a little thought about having re-usable containers to store the food in, it’s possible. In fact there used to be a competition to see which class won the weekly challenge for the least amount of waste (the waste was weighed at the end of the week).

    • I do enjoy the subjects, which helps to put the ideas forward.

      Glad you enjoyed it though and hopefully it’ll make a small difference to people’s thought process on a waste disposal day. Loving the class competition idea. When I look at the businesses we have in Bude, we could be a very green town. Would be good to see some local initiatives to improve the green credentials of the area. Wind turbines and solar panels have a place but getting rid of a landfills is a bigger problem in my eyes.

  4. Dawn Robinson-Walsh says:

    Perhaps, if you have anything like this, which you angle with a Bude & Beyond perspective, you ought to have a column on my website, rather like Dani Meaney does? You would then be able to link back to your blog, get a wider readership and obviously promote through Bude & Beyond’s social media, too. The site is based on wordpress with which you are obviously familiar, so it wouldn’t pose any major difficulties for you. Have a think and email me budeandbeyond@gmail.com if interested.

    • Hi Dawn, thanks for the offer ad I will think about it. I guess it just depends how well I can improve as a writer. It’s all still fairly new to me and I’m sort of doing my subjects fairly randomly. But it’s definitely an interesting proposition. Thanks, Lee.

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