Saturday, 6 September 2008

Don't recycle, burn

For those of us with chimneys, the answer to any move to charge us by weight for refuse collected was always obvious. Those of my generation in particular, who grew up in households that barely filled one tiny galvanised dustbin a week with waste, will have been used to their parents disposing of anything flammable by throwing it on the open fire. The legend 'no hot ashes' no longer seems to be engraved on newer wheelie bins, but for many years what went into household bins was just that; ashes, and old tins.

The difference between then and now is the volume of plastic packaging in our waste. Burning plastics generates dioxins, which are bad things. The Mail reports on a suppressed government report that predicts the obvious; many people will burn their rubbish rather than pay extra for it. The pay as you throw scheme is always going to be unworkable anyway; fine for the coping classes who pay Council tax by direct debit, but how are they going to get the cash from the transient and underclass populations with no bank accounts and credit meters?

And with the exception of dioxin-producing wastes, there's nothing wrong with burning your waste and a great deal right. Instead of the Council burning tonnes of diesel and employing scores of men to shift your waste paper, burning it is not only carbon-neutral but actually saves a great deal of carbon - not only transport and handling carbon costs, but a saving in fossil fuels equivalent to the joules of heat produced. Without plastic packaging, and recycling everything else recyclable, I reckon the only stuff that need go in my refuse bin is ash.

The answer of course is for the supermarkets to substitute card and paper packaging for plastic so that we may burn it. And with stoves coming on line such as the Yorkshire Stove that can be used legally even in London and other Clean Air Act areas, there's no reason not to. Eighteen quid will buy one of those nifty paper log makers and every day the postman, the pizza leaflet delivery teams and the free local ad-papers will drop free fuel through your letter box.

1 comment:

hatfield girl said...

As 'la sposa', all new and doing my best, I was throwing on the fire everything that burned. Disaster! Ash has characteristic uses and should be carefully fuelled. No eggshells, for instance, as they ruin the cleansing qualities when ash is mixed with soap root and boiled with the household linen to act for washing powder. And different woods do different things, some fry, some cook beans overnight, some roast entire piglets.

I am preparing a small pamphlet on the uses and abuses of household open fires (closed boilers are another story). It is to be followed by 'Middens and their Contents'.