Recycle, recycle, recycle

I’m a big fan of recycling – I’ve been recycling the same jokes for years, as you’ve probably noticed – but home recycling’s a bit of a pain: the boxes aren’t big enough to cope with my newspaper and magazine habit, and even when I don’t manage to cram every magazine into the recycling box it quickly becomes too heavy to lift comfortably (I’m not being a wuss, but I’m paranoid about knocking my back out again).

Credit where credit’s due to East Dunbartonshire council, then: I sent them an email asking if there were alternative collection boxes (eg wheely bins or whatever) or additional boxes available, and they’re sending me some extra recycling boxes and a trolley to wheel ’em around in. I am the recycling king!

15 thoughts on “Recycle, recycle, recycle

  1. Tony Kiernan says:

    North Lanarkshire have issued all ‘proper’ houses with paper and garden refuse wheelie bins. Apparently glass, plastic & metal are on their way. We that live in flats were given two bags which, of course, after having been left out for the first collection these of course blew away and were never seen again.

    Guess I’ll just hijack one of the houses’ to cover my red wine habit.

  2. Stephen says:

    Hmm, my friends who live in houses say the recycling Gestapo have been paying them visits; apparently they sift through your trash, then ring on the doorbell and want to know why there are magazines and glass bottles in the trash. Fortunately I live in a flat where you cannot access the dustbin without a key, otherwise I would probably be charged with assault…

    I don’t buy the whole recycling bit. There’s no economic case for it, so most of the stuff you put into the system in good faith ends up in a landfill anyway, because nobody wants it. Let’s face it, if trash were worth anything, companies would be paying you to take it away. They don’t, so it’s worthless. Resorting to group pressure and legislation is a sure sign that the economics don’t work.

  3. David says:

    I’ve got a wheelie bin that’s emptied once a month. Paper, plastic and cardboard. Had a wheelie bin for over a year but my landlord had filled it with rubble so it was useless.

    Our local council tip is quite well organised. Every skip is for a different material and stuff.

  4. Gary says:

    > Guess I’ll just hijack one of the houses’ to cover my red wine habit.

    We’ve had people round every weekend for the last six weeks or so, often in large groups, and everybody drinks either bottled beer or wine. The neighbours may not realise this when they see me lugging several tons of used bottles to the kerb :)

    > apparently they sift through your trash, then ring on the doorbell and want to know why there are magazines and glass bottles in the trash.

    My mum lives in northern ireland, and if she puts anything that isn’t officially mandated in her recycling bin the council slaps a big red “CONTAMINATED” sticker on it. Which strikes me as overkill.

    > There’s no economic case for it, so most of the stuff you put into the system in good faith ends up in a landfill anyway

    Are you sure? Loads of paper gets recycled, as does glass and aluminium. Not sure what happens to plastic bottles, but I assume certain types get recycled too.

    In the short term at least, it’s more economic to ignore environmental stuff than it is to take it into consideration. Look at PCs: for years they’ve been a growing environmental menace, and PC firms didn’t give a shit until they were compelled to. Likewise cars.

    > economics don’t work.

    Surely it’s not a failure of economics but rather, a vivid illustration that unfettered capitalism doesn’t necessarily make for a decent future? It’s not that trying to be less wasteful is worthless; it’s that environmental considerations don’t show up on a balance sheet. Dumping toxins into streams will always be cheaper than properly processing waste, which is why we need legislation of some sort.

  5. Tony Kiernan says:

    There was a story some years ago about a council shipping their recycling out to landfill in China. Big hoo-ha in the press. Of course turned out that it was a land reclamation project along the lines of the type of thing in Dundee.

  6. paul says:

    I’ve always thought that a proportion of waste gets sorted for recycling whichever way it’s left on the curb. I’m sure I’ve seen TV footage of dustbin lorries emptying their stuff onto conveyer belts where it’s sorted by rows of people (I watch exciting TV).

  7. Stephen says:

    Gary: the environmental considerations are bogus too. Domestic waste (not toxic chemicals) disposed of in proper landfills has never been shown to have the slightest environmental effect. And we pay for this proper disposal with our taxes, recycling or no. Recycling is environmentally unsound: a second truck must make the rounds to pick up the recycled garbage, adding to air pollution, while the recycling plant itself consumes energy and releases pollutants, and that’s just to get the stuff back to virgin-equivalent state. Recycling paper takes more water than making virgin paper. And the paper industry grows all the trees it needs (and then some): recycling paper to save trees is like recycling bread to save wheat.

    PCs would cost about a pound per to dispose of in a landfill. Think you can recycle one for less than that? So why should we subsidise this wasteful, enviromentally harmful practice?

  8. Gary says:

    I don’t know enough about this to argue with you. I may google :-)

    One thing though:

    > PCs would cost about a pound per to dispose of in a landfill

    There’s all kinds of nasty chemicals inside PCs, particularly in monitors. They tend to leak.

  9. David says:

    There are also all sort of precious metals in PCs. I know someone who is making a fair bit of money melting them down.

  10. Stephen says:

    Leakage is something landfills are built to deal with, ie it doesn’t get out through the clay bed and the heavy-duty hot-welded plastic liner.

    Metal recycling is something that does work, and has been commercially viable for many years (ie since before the subsidised recycling movement). It shows that if trash recycling were economic, it would be done anyway.

    Google searches on this tend to bog down with all of the pro-recycling propaganda, but this is a reasonable place to start:

    The Invisible Hand at Odds with Environmentalists

  11. Gary says:

    Hmmm, that’s been an interesting read – inevitably it set me off on a big Google adventure to find more anti-recycling stuff. And there’s lots of shite spoken by both pro- and anti-camps :)

    > Recycling paper takes more water than making virgin paper. And the paper industry grows all the trees it needs (and then some): recycling paper to save trees is like recycling bread to save wheat.

    I’ve seen that one come up a lot, but I’ve also found stats that rebut it: only 20% of US paper comes from tree farms, paper recycling uses 65% less water than virgin paper… and on landfills, while there’s loads of stuff about liners and other measures there’s also reports suggesting that 2/3 of operating landfills don’t have such things. Mind you, for every rebuttal I can find a rebuttal of the rebuttal, which is then rebutted, which in turn…

    I’m going to read up on it more when I get the time, because I’m intrigued by this. But my gut feeling is that the truth lies somewhere between the claims of the enviro-weenies and the claims of the planet destroyers, heh.

  12. Stephen says:

    Obviously there’s going to be those on both sides who are, shall we say, economical with the truth. But given the history of the environmentalist movement (especially the unbelievable crap about global warming) and the fact that the economics can’t be faked, I’m going to bet that the truth lies rather closer to the skeptics.

    Now, due to my general feeling that we should say “no” to any interference in our lives unless there is very good reason for it, I don’t think anyone has demonstrated anything like a very good reason for the government to use my money to pay officious wankers to root through my own garbage and encroach a little more on the ever-diminishing free space in which we have to decide on our actions.

  13. Stephen says:

    only 20% of US paper comes from tree farms

    According to this more than half the raw material for US paper comes from the wood waste left behind from lumber manufacture, and recycled paper. Thus it may be that the statistic you saw is misleadingly selective.

    Apparently the industry does use a lot of recycled paper, but they pay for it: I have seen Google ads for how to start a business collecting scrap paper to sell to paper companies. Now if you or others feel that they want to donate their used paper to the profits of the paper companies, that’s your choice; but I don’t want to be compelled to do the same. If I go to the trouble of sorting out my paper I expect to be paid for it.

  14. Squander Two says:

    > Dumping toxins into streams will always be cheaper than properly processing waste

    Only if the stream’s common land. If the stream is owned, dumping waste into it is as economically viable as dumping waste into someone’s living room: that is, not at all, because they sue you.

    > Look at PCs: for years they’ve been a growing environmental menace, and PC firms didn’t give a shit until they were compelled to. Likewise cars.

    Don’t know about PCs, but the car one is a classic case against legislative fiat. Car windscreens are, with current technology, literally impossible to recycle. No-one knows how to do it. You can’t melt them, because there are layers of glass and plastic sandwiched together and melting the two substances together just wrecks the glass. And they’re attached together too firmly to be separated mechanically — they have to be to be relatively safe when you get hurled through them. The EU ignored these inconvenient facts and just passed a law which will force all car manufacturers to recycle all car parts, no exceptions, no arguing.

    “But we can’t.”

    “You must. We are the law.”

    “Care to tell us how it can be done?”

    “You must. We are the law.”

    “Can you give us any help with this?”

    “You must. We are the law.”

    All that’s going to happen is the same as happened with fridges: a massive and sudden increase in fly-tipping. If you have something that is either impossible or prohibitively expensive to recycle, and you make it illegal to dispose of legally, what happens is that people start to dispose of it illegally. Hoorah.

    > If I go to the trouble of sorting out my paper I expect to be paid for it.

    Absolutely. Something that pisses me off about recycling is the way it’s sold to us as a chargeable benefit. So the local council used to sort your rubbish; now they force you to sort it for them and they up your council tax because they’re “giving” you recycling facilities.

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