It's been over a year since I moved back to Wales, and the Welsh Assembly and the local Councils have, since I was last living here, decided to farm out the job of waste disposal, Waste Management, whatever you want to call it, to private contractors. The aim of this is I am convinced, not to reduce landfill, although this will be a knock on benefit, but more to save the council themselves money by not having to employ refuse collectors and also allowing them to raise extra funds above and beyond that of your council tax. Even though no doubt, the bureaucratic levels and people employed at local government is probably way out of proportion to the amount of people required.
I along with many others will remember as a child taking our empty glass lemonade bottles to the local off licence which had a window that could serve children sweets and soft drinks without them entering licensed premises. I seem to remember we received two new pence per bottle, which in 1969 would buy an awful lot of sweets. Today we have to pay for our rubbish to be re-cycled?! So now the companies are making money from our rubbish as opposed to making money from our rubbish through savings and giving a little back.
Now I appreciate councils have the inevitable Government, County Councils and European re-cycling targets to hit, but frankly very little of this has been thought through with a view of the average person in the street. Members of the public DO NOT create rubbish. Manufacturers do. So each time a product is bought the packaging invariably gets thrown away. Or if you decide to have a clear out, the product and maybe the box it came in has to be disposed of, none of which is the fault of the person who bought it.
Here is an example of the over packaging with which we will all be familiar .
I know it takes more than one photograph!
A cellophane outer wrapper, a cardboard hologrammed outer sleeve, a plastic case, a paper sleeve on the outer plastic case, showing exactly the same as the hologrammed sleeve. An advertising leaflet which is double the size shown as it opens out. And finally the product you wanted, the DVD! Now I would suggest that at the very minimum the outer sleeve, the cellophane wrap and the advertising sheet, need not be in the packaging! Almost reducing the waste by 50% If I threw the DVD away, the plastic case would not be allowed in the plastic recycling bin and nor would the DVD.
Now I burn pretty much anything that can be burnt without putting nasties into the air such as burning polystyrene. Now that is all well and good, but my general waste bin is collected on a two weekly basis. Over this last week I have taken delivery of two items. A carpet washer and a slow cooker. In the next picture the trainer is there for perspective. As you can see a huge amount of polystyrene. I shan't bore you with another rubbish photograph. See what I did there! But with the polystyrene from the slow cooker as well, that would fill half of my general waste bin for a two week period.
So what as a single person am I to do? What IF I were a family of four or five? I have three choices, drive to the dump, which in my case is a 44 mile round trip. Oh and did I mention, they will NOT take the polystyrene as it is only a recycling site. I could fly tip it. Or I can leave it out for the refuse collectors in a plastic bag. Now my council want to charge me for a Purple bag if I have extra waste. I have informed them that I will NEVER buy a bag from them. My reasoning is this. I live in a very remote part of Wales (10 mile round trip to my nearest shop, pub, petrol station), we don't have street lighting, we don't have the country lanes cleaned, I have never called the fire brigade and even if I did the house will have burned down long before they would have arrived. So in short ALL I get for the £1,300 council tax per year that I pay, is my rubbish collected. I have no food waste as the veg goes on the garden and the meat and bones is eaten by the dogs. As I said earlier anything that can be burnt will be.
I wrote to my MP Mr Williams, who, to his credit and caused me to be slightly speechless for a while, attended my home on a Sunday early afternoon and spent an hour discussing the problem. He in turn had the minister who was in charge of waste management write me a letter. I won't post it with this article as frankly it was the usual "5% saving for this quarter blah blah blah........." and a completely useless reply, when the question posed was, get the manufacturers to reduce the waste.
When I did visit the dump I was told that a bottle of shampoo was chemical waste and they couldn't take it, the well known health food store vitamin 'A' tablets needed to be taken to a chemist for disposal. Oh and the tiny ceramic salt cellar would need to go in with the rocks and rubble even though it is made from fired clay. It did cross my mind that I was being treated in a racist way but of course an Englishman in Wales? No surely not! Tell me, has this all gone too far!
Deal with the problem at source not with the public who are nearing the stage of a stealth taxes for collection of their rubbish. In the 60s and 70's when you went to the shop to buy let's say potatoes. They would have dirt on them and be sold loose. So firstly you didn't buy more than you needed, the dirt would be washed of when you peeled your potato and finally you would put them in a paper bag to take them to the checkout. Today's potatoes are washed and if not packaged in a two and half kilo plastic bags, then four of them will be placed as if crown jewels on a polystyrene base which is then wrapped in cellophane. Seriously!