Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Good News! (for once)

Most environmental statistics are bleak and getting worse, but edie is reporting a 3% fall in the waste produced by households last year, and a 10% fall in the amount being sent to landfill. To put this in context, most councils plan that waste will increase by 3% each year so this is a significant turnaround and shows that the war can be won.

The edie report talks at length about various recycling initiatives, but is silent on the reasons why overall waste levels have fallen. This is a pity, as waste reduction is a hard nut to crack. I would guess it is due to (some) better designed packaging, more composting, and the fact that we're moving to buying more information, like MP3 downloads, e-books and ringtones, as opposed to their equivalent physical products, like CDs, books, newspapers etc.


At 5:18 PM, Anonymous Nick said...

The stats are quite bleak and getting worse. Having recently launched a new website devoted to making recycling simpler and more appealing for us ‘city folk’, I’m struck by how few facilities are available to the potential urban recycler in London as a whole. By making recycling harder than it needs to be, especially for bulkier items, we run the risk of our waste problems getting out of control – with serious financial and environmental implications.

According to the office of the Mayor of London, in his “Drowning in Rubbish” report, we currently produce an estimated 17 million tonnes of waste a year, but only have the capacity to manage 10 million tonnes (or 60 per cent) of the waste we produce.

Yet despite these figures, London has the second worst regional recycling rate for household waste in the UK at just 17% - a third below the 25% target set by the government.

Just think how difficult it is at the moment if you want to recycle or dispose of something like a TV, a sofa or a refrigerator and then ask yourself; is it at all surprising to see items like these dumped on street corners and industrial spaces across the city?

With hefty European fines of up to £150 per excess tonne, according to the Economist article, “Cleaning up the Act” Sept 2nd 2006, p. 31, we are set to be levied on areas that fail to meet targets, and it seems inevitable that the costs of sorting out our waste problems will end up adding to Council Tax bills or even in direct taxes on the waste we produce.

If local government, by its own admission, “does not address the problems in parts of London of poor recycling performance or need for disposal infrastructure”, then Londonders need to take it upon ourselves to find alternative answers.

Websites like UsefulGarbage.com and local community initiatives will no doubt be part of the solution but I’d prefer not to wait until we’re knee deep in rubbish before we start to really take this seriously. After all, this is not just a ‘green’ issue but also a quality of life and financial issue for all of Westminster and London.

Nicholas Tsiougos

At 4:34 PM, Blogger frank said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 4:35 PM, Blogger frank said...

Hi I have just spotted another nice site : junkjunkies.org. Hundreds on free junk items around UK.

It is a pretty basic site but I found it useful !


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