Saturday, 9 February 2013

The waste of waste

Finally, it seems, DEFRA are admitting what this blog has been saying for some years - that our entire domestic waste recycling regime is an utter waste of time and money. The EU Waste Framework Directive, the pernicious piece of nonsense behind the whole thing, sets targets for the government, through the local councils, for the percentage of waste that is recycled. Or, rather, intended to be recycled. For the measure is taken at the point of collection, not of disposal. As long as councils collect their quota of recycled waste, they can then send it all to landfill along with the rest of the waste. There are no targets for the percentage of domestic waste actually recycled.

So who benefits from this pointless legislation? Well, principally a German company called Schneider, Europe's largest roto-moulders of wheelie bins. The chances are at least one of the three wheelie bins you're likely to have cluttering your driveway was made by Schneider. And as the company hold all the patents on wheelie bins, they even make royalties when the bins are manufactured by other firms. Their triumph has been in Europe's decisions to equip each Eurohousehold not with one 240l bin but three 120l bins, whose carefully segregated contents are then all dumped in the same pile at the waste depot. So whilst the EU wants us on the one hand to dramatically curb our use of flimsy 5g plastic carrier bags, it legislates on the other to quadruple the use of plastic at 14,000g a time for new wheelie bins. There will soon be one 120l wheelie bin for every citizen in the EU; seven thousand tonnes of plastic, enough for 1.4 billion carrier bags, or 2,800 carrier bags for each and every citizen in the EU. You couldn't make it up. 

14 comments:

Notcompetent said...

Look on the bright side the small ones are great for running up an outboard.

Sniper said...


Funnily enough, living in Germany 10 years ago we had exactly the same scandal - all our carefully segregated waste (ruthlessly policed by an Official Inspectorate with hefty fines for non-compliance)all ended up in the same landfill.

Anonymous said...

None of the so called recycling could possibly work if it was not for the hundreds of empty ships returning to China daily, having delivered their cargoes. Once there it can be simply incinerated.

Anonymous said...

Spot on! I have raised this current piece of euro nonsense with our local council and my MP. Two large bins and 2 oblong plastic boxes cluttering up the outside of my house. And no, they refused [sic] to listen. It's gone from an automated lift and tip sysyem to a manual lift and sift system. The palava of this should be witnessed as these guys try to tip into side loaders whislt getting run over by traffic in the morning (it will happen soon, mark my words!). And I can just imagine the manual handling injuries claims arriving before too long...

Coney Island

Anonymous said...

"The chances are at least one of the three wheelie bins you're likely to have cluttering your driveway was made by Schneider."

Didn't Phillips make a mint out of the supposedly 'eco-friendly' and supposedly 'low energy' and ( sotto voce ) highly poisonous ) fluorescent lamps.

Anon 2 said...

A 'single-market' then... for all these monopolies?

To say nothing of the fact that Britain now smells as bad as euroland.

Ian Hills said...

Confirms my suspicion that EU directives are sponsored by big eurobusinesses.

G. Tingey said...

Which is a shame ...
Because we ought to be recycling as much as possible, as efficently as possible.
But it isn't happening.
We have an apparently corrupt rtainly grossly inefficient "system" instead.

No, I correct myself, it isn't a shame, it's disgraceful.

Anonymous said...

No we should only recycle those materials that are worth so doing. Aluminium and other metals perhaps, always balanced by the costs of the entire collection, transport, segregation and purification proceses. Otherwise virtually nothing else. Plastics should be burnt: as present it costs three times to process more than the market pays. Paper rapidly degrades each time it is bleached and repulped, glass crushed for road building, just to get rid of it. The EU allows incinerated waste to be labelled as recycled if it is used to generate electricity. In UK we dig holes each year bigger than the entire domestic waste, so it could all be buried simply.

Weekend Yachtsman said...

I second the comment about outboards!

And as I may have mentioned before, if you visit our local "cowp" you'll find many skips all carefully labelled - paper, wood, metal, glass, rubble, etc etc. But if you visit when the lorry is there doing the pickup, they cry from the attendant is "everything straight into the truck - everything". I conclude that it all goes to the same place anyway.

Matt said...

Weekend Yachtsman: I've had similar experiences. Our local dump used to have a collection point for sheets of glass. Recently when I had need to dispose of one of these I found this was no longer there. On asking the attendant where I should put the glass he gesticulated and said "that skip over there". I had to ask again and double check - he was indeed telling me to put it in the "metal" skip. This seems doubly stupid, since metal recycling is one of the clear-cut cases that definitely IS worthwhile and economically sound - why would they be contaminating this and making it difficult/dangerous for subsequent sorting and grading?

I've never understood the obsession with keeping paper, food and garden waste out of landfill - surely such organic matter is best placed there where it will quickly return to harmless soil. With organised landfill the methane can be collected and burned - not so for local garden composting.

Anonymous said...

The 'new' University I used to work at was in this scam. They took away our waste baskets, and made us take the waste to various collection points. Then they dumped everything in the same compactor skip. Even worse, they hired bunches of parasites to exhort us all into compliance, all at horrendous cost that could have been better spent on staff and students. Not just bullshit, but wasteful bullshit ...

Anonymous said...

But where would the East-Europeans get all the documents for identity theft if not the recycling depot ?

William Gruff said...

Four (4) skips:

A blue one for metal cans and 'soft' plastics (not bags).
A brown one for paper and cardboard.
A green one for garden and kitchen waste, including tea bags and meat bones.
A grey one for non recyclable waste.

Tetrapaks, used clothing, shoes etc. to the local 'Bring Sites' (I kid you not) and everything else to the waste recycling centre (by car, if you have one - we don't so those things sit in a growing heap in the shed).

A thousand (£1,000.00) fine for 'non-compliance', which includes putting out the bins outside the permitted hours.