Weighing up Waste Recycling – The personal perspective

Two cheers “Waste of Time” appeared in the Guardian on 13th October by Tim Worstall, on the costs and benefits of waste recycling. Like the Tif Manchester, it is another example where people’s time is not taken into account in making the governement making decisions.

It would be interesting to look at the total package. Such things to consider are


The neighbourhood impact


I have now got four wheelie bins for waste. A large black one for general waste, a large green one for garden waste (no pet litter or food waste), a slim blue one for paper (no cardboard, window envelopes) and a slim brown one for bottles. Then there is a plastic bag for tins and cans. Sorting the waste, I fill the green bin about every 2 to 4 weeks (the larger items going to the tip in my car), the bottle and paper bins about every 4 to 6 months and the black bin is almost full every week. A corner of my garden has become a recyling centre, and a portion of the shed as well. I may not have the tidiest garden, but it looks natural, expect for the “green centre”, that I try to hide with a “rustic” hedge.


The type of material


The best sort of material to recycle is garden waste. Properly managed it rots into a useful by product. Metal in big chunks can easily be recycled. But some must take more energy and time to recycle (taking the whole process into account) than cost of landfill and producing new.


The environmental impact


The government has now committed us to reducing our CO2 by 80% by 2050 – hopefully in my lifetime. Maybe it should start by reducing recycling to the point where the CO2 (or equivalent) produced by the whole process of recycling is less than the CO2 (or equivalent) produced by managed landfill and producing new. One thing to start warning people off is using hot water to rinse bottles etc, or going in the car to a recycling point with half a dozen bottles. The amount of CO2 impact is usually greater than just chucking the “recyclable” bits into the bin. The government should provide guidelines on this.


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