CROYDON COMMENTARY: Not enough residents are doing enough to reduce the amount of rubbish that goes to landfill by simply sorting out their recycling properly for collection. This costs our council millions in unnecessary landfill tax.
According to ROBIN BAILEY, it’s time to start fining those who are not doing their bit to save the planet
I live in a multiple-occupancy semi-detached house in Selhurst. Basically it contains seven studio flats or bedsits. As far as I can tell, only two, or possibly three of the seven occupants bother to put anything in the recycling boxes. And neither the council nor their contractors, Veolia, do anything about that. It makes me so angry.
There are several families among the residents. For the number of adults and children who live here, collectively we should be filling three blue recycling boxes and three green ones every two weeks. But after two weeks, I usually see only one blue box or one green box full, at least half of which is my recycling.
In 2005, my South Korean housemates told me how, in their country, local government carefully enforces minimum amounts of recycling and residents who don’t meet that level are fined.
This may sound a bit strict but at the end of the day it’s for the good of everyone in the world. I believe that this already happens in some European countries, too. It was even put forward as a proposal by Croydon Council in 2012, but has never been implemented. Shouldn’t this have been happening already for years?
I do appreciate the criticism of our having landfill collections only every two weeks, instead of weekly as it used to be. But if everyone recycled more, or as much as they could and should do (including regular use of the organic recycling containers, which are now collected weekly), then they would find that having their black bags in wheelie bins emptied only once a fortnight less of a problem.If we recycled more – just by sorting out the plastics, glass and cardboard into the right recycling boxes – some households would only really need one wheelie bin, not two. Others, like my seven-flat house, could easily get by with three wheelie bins instead of four, with a bit of recycling effort.
But at the end of the two weeks, our four wheelie bins are always either full or overflowing. Meanwhile, the recycling boxes remain half-empty, with no incentive or possible sanction to encourage us to do more.
I phoned the council’s recycling line a few months ago to complain about this situation. The guy’s response is that the fault lies with my landlord, that it’s he who should be making sure that all my fellow tenants do some recycling.
I do not agree with that. While there are some things that my landlord should be doing, I don’t think that policing his tenants’ recycling is one of them. He could put up a poster or two in the flat, but it’s not my landlord who collects the rubbish or processes it, is it? It’s Croydon Council and Veolia who are mainly responsible for tackling the issue of residents not recycling enough.
There’s also the “second bin issue”.
Some people seem to be just using the recycling boxes as a second bin, putting anything and everything into them. When I walk around Selhurst, South Norwood and Thornton Heath, I see this so often. What worries me about this is how much of this waste gets recycled. I wouldn’t be surprised if it is all despatched to landfill as “contaminated”, and unusable as recyclable material.
All Croydon residents pay for every ton of rubbish that goes to landfill, through a landfill tax which is met out of our Council Tax. If we reduced the amount of waste going into a hole in the ground by doing our bit and recycling better, it would save our council, and us, money.
But there’s a bigger issue here. Much bigger.
It seems that a lot of residents in the borough aren’t taking global warming, the depletion of resources and the increasing world population very seriously. This includes some parents who have young children.
If we can’t be bothered to do a little bit of sorting of our rubbish each week, what kind of world are these children and their future children going to have?
- Robin Bailey works in south London as an English as a foreign language tutor, and describes himself as a “recycling activist”
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