Recycling progress?

In their recent report East Cheshire council was pleased to report that 55% of garbage is now recycled. That means it went into the recycling bins. How much was really recycled is anyone’s guess.

This reminds me of the first Knutsford Lectures in 1994, the days of the single black rubbish bin. We had subsidiary short talks on matters of local interest and one was given by a man from the then Macclesfield Borough Council. He had the good news that recycling was to begin soon, which indeed it did a few years later. So this was progress of a sort, and people are now furiously engaged in playing a part in recycling. Of course this led to the plague of wheelie bins that now disfigures streets and alleyways across the world. [One day we will get back to a single bin which is automatically recycled, like the mostly manual French dechetterie we toured round many years ago, but that’s not my main focus here.]

It feels that we actually generate more rubbish than we did 25 years ago. Now why is that? Packaging – both plastic packaging from supermarket products and the endless excessively large cardboard boxes and internal wadding from ever more internet purchases. Amazon and product producers are actually filling up the recycling bins and thereby increasing that recycling statistic. It seems like two steps forward and one step back.

And of course Amazon avoid paying the tax that would pay for the extra cost of all this recycling. Politicians seem so slow to grasp these nettles!

Featured image shows bins in Christchurch, New Zealand
by gobeirne via Wikimedia Commons

Disgusting rubbish

cullen park rubbish point“Whoever did that it’s disgusting.”

 6-year-old grandaughter was quite clear about what she felt about the rubbish we came across in an otherwise rather attractive area in Cullen Park, Houston.

A stream winds its way through tangled woodland; along the bank a worn path follows the meanders, ideal for young explorations. But then we came across odd plastic bottles and other rubbish, which had accumulated in one particular area, probably as a result of earlier flooding.

cullen park rubbishHer reaction shows the world view at age 6. The beautiful world she is exploring despoiled by human action in leaving rubbish around. Due to the possible effects of flooding it is not clear that the rubbish was actually put in that place, but it seems pretty sure that it was deposited somewhere it should not have been,

This is not particularly a US problem. In Europe you frequently see rubbish that has been left in parks, on verges, thrown out of car windows, fly-tipped, and so on. Some countries are worse than others, but this is not the place to name names.

The situation at sea is perhaps worse. The accumulation of plastic rubbish in the Pacific Ocean is of legendary proportions – the great pacific garbage patch. Many fish and seabirds now have small particles of plastic in their gut as a result. Many die. All of that rubbish was caused to go into the sea by some deckhand, some person in authority, some private individual etc.  The problem of human rubbish is just enormous.

Plastic rubbish lasts so long in the environment that this is a problem for my grandchild’s generation that is getting worse and worse. Why are we not all fired by that same reaction? It is disgusting.

Her last words on the subject show the total unacceptability of what we and our governments appear to accept as unavoidable:

“I’m not happy with the people who did that”.

It is just not acceptable. All rubbish needs to be recycled.