Tuesday, May 29, 2007

What a load of rubbish

Some of you will have heard that our Labour Government is proposing
stricter control over what we throw away, and will introduce fines
for people who refuse to recycle their household waste properly.
David Miliband, Secretary of State for the Environment, announced
this in Parliament last week. The problem being is that at the rate
we’re going, all our landfill sites will be full in 7 years’ time.

I’m all for recycling as much as possible, but I think Milliband
and his civil service team haven’t thought it through properly.

I think his general approach is too punitive, and unworkable. Is it
right to impose a fine if someone’s bin has been filled with
inappropriate rubbish by a neighbour or vandal. How do you sort out
who’s rubbish is who’s, in communal bins for people all living in one
house or block of flats? Would you fine an elderly person, who’s got
senile dementia? How are the binmen going to segregate one household’s
bin load from another, by the time it reaches the sorting station?
Or are we going to have on-street inspections of all our rubbish,
before it enters the refuse lorry?

And then there’s the huge problem of what to do with the food waste.
From reading The Times last Saturday, I gather we’re going to be
supplied with small slop buckets, to keep in our kitchen, and then
use these to fill larger bins … imagine the stench of having to
clean these and the flies, in mid-summer heat. Well, it’s been
suggested we could wrap our food waste in newspaper before binning
it, or put the waste down our kitchen food grinders – that’s OK for
some, who’ve got a double kitchen sink and grinder already installed.

For 15 years, Mrs C and I lived with another family in a large house
on the outskirts on Nottingham – 4 adults, six girls, and loads of
pets plus a few farm animals, and bees … almost doing “The Good Life”.
We had a slop bucket for food waste, which went onto a smelly heap
in our garden (some distance from the house), which was visited by
rats and mice, flies and our dog for their daily snacks. We didn’t
compost it properly I admit, but even so, we couldn’t have easily
kept vermin or our dog at bay.

Well, cleaning out the slop bucket almost daily for a household of
10 people wasn’t very pleasant – I would feel almost sick at times
doing it, and if someone emptied it without cleaning it properly
before re-use, there would be a build-up of a slimy, smelly residue
at the bottom and on the sides of the bucket, often growing mould
and fungus, which was difficult to scrape off – yuck! (Hope you’re
not eating at the moment). Potato peelings seemed to weld themselves
to the sides and bottom of the bucket.

Mrs C and I went to London over the weekend to see our young family
there, plus our niece and her fella who’ve just moved to a flat in
Highbury Park. It was our fist visit to that part of London, and I
was pleasantly surprised to see how lovely the park was (near the
tube station), and how grand the houses were around it – homes of
the rich and famous, I’ve been told. It was a fairly cold and wet
day, with drizzly rain – typical Bank Holiday weather for Britain –
and on our way to our niece’s, we stopped off to buy an apple tart
at a posh food shop. I stayed outside the shop while Mrs C and our
daughter Luce, went inside.

Nearby were two full black poly bags, on the edge of the pavement,
which stank of rotting food – I had to move upwind to avoid the
stink. Imagine what the centres of our cities will be like when
bin-loads of food waste will be lining the streets. We’ll all be
wandering around with strongly scented hankies to sniff, while
walking the streets ... and the rats will have a good time with all
the extra food coming their way. (Rats are good at chomping through
plastic bins by the way, to get at food inside – we had to keep animal
foodstuffs in metal bins).

So, coming back to the general problem – how to encourage people to
recycle their waste more.

I’ve got a good friend in senior management, who sometimes jokes
about how to motivate his sales staff … “I believe in the carrot and
stick approach”, he says ... “I hit them with both”.

I reckon people needs carrots not sticks to persuade them to recycle
more.

Some years ago, GPs were awarded extra pay if they reached a certain
target with their immunisation and cervical smear programmes, and
even more money if they hit a higher target. Overall the pot of
money from which GPs were being paid didn’t increase a lot – if a
GP didn’t reach any of the targets, then his/her pay would drop.
A very clever scheme, as it got most GPs putting more effort in
to achieve these targets.

So if you apply this idea to encouraging people to recycle more,
I suggest that they should receive a £30-50 annual cashback on
the money they pay on their council tax, if they reach a certain
target. Council tax rates could be set so the council doesn’t
lose out, and people who don’t recycle their stuff would pay more
tax than those who do.

I’d reserve the stick / the stocks for the bad offenders. The
stocks … now there’s a use for the rotting fruit and veg (and
where to slop out). Slab Square in Nottingham could be renamed
as Rotten Square.

2 Comments:

Blogger angel said...

that is a tad heavy handed... my aunt lives on a farm and also has to recycle and seperate everything coz there's no bin collection like in the cities- it would drive me barmy! i like convenience way too much!

7:06 PM  
Blogger justin said...

Yes, I think the Govt needs to think of ways to win the public over to recycling their waste, and to make them feel proud to do so -- fining them for not recycling will just make them hostile to the whole idea.

10:01 PM  

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