Recycling in the UK is becoming a real issue – recently it has come to light that a large proportion (over 50%) of our carefully separated rubbish is being rejected by recycling companies, handed over to international contractors who are shipping it out to countries like China and Africa where it goes to landfill, completely contradicting the whole point of recycling. This is simply wasting energy and costing time and money on a massive scale and it’s suspected that EU recycling deadlines and demands being met for political reasons is what’s behind it all.

Some households are having to separate their refuse into as much as 10 different categories and much of the lighter materials like plastic bottles are ending up being blown away before they are even collected. The fact that little or none of it is getting recycled anyway just adds insult to injury and smacks of lying politicians and corrupt council officials. Waste collection currently being every two weeks is inadequate and there is talk of them changing it to every month, all this will do is give the central government the green light to squeeze the local councils even more on funding for refuse collection and disposal.

What is needed is lateral thinking, instead of this kind of band aid stick a plaster on it and look the other way attitude towards recycling which is an urgent global concern, products and packaging need to be carefully scrutinized and improved for much needed redesign with the reduction of environmental damage the primary concern. Then we could have a situation where the consumer would be throwing away less because they have products that last longer. If products were not made to be disposable we would not have to throw so many thousands of tons of them away every year.

An example of a good product is rechargeable batteries, research needs to go into making them last even longer. Government's best place in the scheme of things is to be rewarding and encouraging companies that develop longer lasting and greener products say through tax incentives, while penalizing the companies that do nothing to clean up their acts re the environmental impact their products have.

All companies have to be made accountable for their conrtribution to environmental damage at some level but this can be done without prejudice or malice in a spirit of co operation and common benefit as we all inhabit the same world, we all breathe the same air and need clean water to drink. We have been educated to expect that we have to throw away tons of rubbish daily and that our products are made to fail after a short time, but if we are to turn the tide of environmental pollution that is threatening the existence of all life on earth then we have to demand something better.

It would be easy if the right incentives were in place for manufacturers to make changes for the better in every stage of design, manufacture, distribution and disposal of their products. If the manufacturers demanded that their raw materials are produced ethically, the mining companies would have no choice but to make changes in their practices.

If companies produce decent quality products that are made to last and be functional for as long as possible, if they were actually in competition for who makes the most durable and long lasting products and were rewarded instead of penalized for this, then less products would have to be produced, less packaging, less raw materials pulled out of the earth, transportation of said raw materials, less transportation of the products themselves, less transportation of the discarded products, less recycling and less landfill.

This would be in the true spirit of recycling to produce long lasting durable and reliable products a company can be truly proud of with the best design and the most ethical production standards possible with the encouragement and support of government who now understand from bitter experience that is the way to go to save energy, resources and so on and meet those recycling promises made to the EU.

Published on  17.06.2013