Why recycling is still a bit pathetic

I asked recently when would be a good time to empty our now full shredder into the recycling bin outside, which I’m sure to most people in today’s environmently conscious world would be a natural job.

I was told I couldn’t. Stopped in my tracks, I asked why. Apparently it screws up the recycling machines so we’re asked not to include it.

Gobsmacked.

So, today we’re being strongly advised to shred any personal details supplied on paper, and to recycle to help save the planet, yet we can only do one or the other. I decided today to look the matter up, and sure enough Recycle for Norfolk has a web page answering questions, and funnily enough this matter is top of the list.

“Q. Why can’t shredded paper be recycled and what should I do with it?”

“A… When arriving at the facility it will have been mixed up with the other recyclable materials and the machinery has difficulty in separating out the shredded paper, causing inconvenience and extra costs. This all means that shredded paper can’t actually go in your kerbside recycling collection.”

I kid you not. Apparently it’s inconvenient and it costs more.

Wait… Surely the inconvenience of re-homing thousands of people due to flooding when King’s Lynn and surrounding areas disappear as projected will cost a tiny amount too? Or did we give up on them? Cause I’m pretty sure you’ll still find people constructing and buying homes there.

There’s a wider issue here too – whilst our bottle and paper recycling bins at home are full, so remains the “landfill bin.” What about the used tissues, surely there should be put in for recycling. And the plastic trays that held microwave ready meals? The yoghurt pots we eat from?

“There are many plastic items marked as recyclable which are not accepted for recycling in Norfolk. These include such things as yoghurt and margarine tubs and plastic fruit and meat trays.”

Apparently this is due to a lack of “stable end markets” for the recycled product. So because we don’t have a buyer, let’s dump that lot in landfill too, shall we? Codswallop.

To end this insanity we need to cut through the bullshit with a really sharp instrument. Industry must accept that if they manufacture something the left-overs must be reclaimed and recycled – all of it. If you sell to Tesco one million ready meals, you’d better cost up the collection of the paper and plastics in the packaging, then wash it and re-print it with another load of ready meals. Now that would cause them to consider necessary packaging, as opposed to pretty packaging.

The public is already faced with increased bills due to the problems of not having a 100% recycling policy; combined with the long-term effects and costs on the planet you have to wonder if a radical world-wide shift in industry culture may save us individually a lot of money and our health.

But of course, individuals have no power over such things, the company shareholders do.

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