Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Reality of Recycling

The Guardian published a good piece called 'the truth about recycling'.  
A small selection from a very long article:

Wakelin [CEO of Greenstar] believes that one of the tricks to winning over a sceptical public is to make recycling far easier for the average householder. "I always get asked the same questions at dinner parties," he says. "Why do I have to have so many bins at home? And why can't I recycle more plastic?"

The solution, says Wakelin, is to "leave it to the machines", rather than have "Mr and Mrs Average sorting it all at home". His company's philosophy for waste is that "co-mingled" collections (where all dry recyclables are placed by householders into just one bag ready for collection) are the way forward, as opposed to kerbside collections (where householders are expected to separate their recycling at home for refuse workers working "kerbside" to then put these sorted materials by hand into separate containers on their vehicle) which, he says, are less efficient, both environmentally and economically. The MRF at Aldridge processes 500-600 tonnes of municipal recycling (collected from households, restaurants, small businesses etc) a day, serving 15 local authorities, some as far away as London and North Wales. This represents 3-4% of the UK's dry recyclate.

A key learning point for developing cities is to critically examine and pilot alternative waste management options before making any prescriptive choices.

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