Recycling and waste collection

We got an envelope through the door yesterday from South Bedfordshire District Council explaining their new recycling and refuse scheme.

A few weeks ago we got a orange topped wheelie bin, to go with our existing black wheelie bin and smaller green wheelie bin. (If you keep them happy do they breed?). The green one was introduced a couple of years ago for garden waste and is collected every other week.

We have had a orange bag recycling scheme for several years. We can put cans and tins (drink cans, food tins and pet food tins), newspapers and magazines (plus junk mail, flyers, holiday brochures and telephone directories), card (cereal packets, detergent boxes and similar material, but not corrugated card), plastic (plastic drink & milk bottles, plastic detergent bottles and plastic shampoo bottles). The orange bag gets put out each week and collected with the normal rubbish. It is then sorted out at the recycling facility.

From September, the orange bags will no longer be used. All recyclable waste will have to be put directly in the orange topped wheelie bin. This going to be a bit of a nuisance as we have a bin in our back porch that we use for the orange bag in at the moment. I guess we’ll carry on using this and tip it into the wheelie bin before collection. The collections are going to be every other week, the same day as the garden waste green bin collection. The items we can put in are the same, except they are now asking us to leave the lids on the plastic bottles. This is quite strange as every other recycling scheme asks you to remove the lids as it allows the bottles to be crushed easier and also they tend to be made from different plastic that needs to be removed.

From the leaflet, ‘plastic makes up 11 percent of household waste, 40 percent of which is plastic bottles’. By my calculations that means that 60% of the plastic in household waste or 6.6% of the total is not being recycled as only bottles are recycled. Also from the leaflet, ‘In South Bedfordshire the amount of household waste we produce has risen to over 50,000 tonnes a year’. This means that 3,300 tonnes of un-recycled plastic is still going to be sent to landfill. This is being sold to us as a scheme to protect the environment by reducing landfill, but I find it difficult to see beyond the fact that it is financially viable to recycle and sell the plastic bottles, but the other plastic is worth less so isn’t worth doing.

Overall South Bedfordshire recycled 32% of total household waste in 2006/07, up from 2004/05 which was 15%. The goal for 2010 is 50% of rubbish recycled.

The leaflet doesn’t mention the other change, it just refers you to the enclosed calendar for collection dates. When you check the collection dates you see that the remainder of your household waste in the black wheelie bin will be collected every other week on alternate weeks to the recycling. I’m not sure if I see this as a problem or not. Many other councils have introduced this to the disgust of the residents who raise issues about hygenie and rats. We don’t generate a lot of rubbish in the black bin and so I don’t see our bin overflowing. Time will tell.

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