Food for thought about how rubbish we are at recycling

We need a fresh approach to not creating so much waste in the first place
We need a fresh approach to not creating so much waste in the first place

If you are the sort of person who wants to recycle, Brighton and Hove City Council have advice to give.

There can be no doubt that if you are the sort of person who wants to recycle, then Brighton and Hove City Council have advice to give on recycling just about anything from an old TV to an item containing asbestos. There will be information somewhere to deal with the issue and our local authority are, I am sure, extremely pleased with themselves.

This is all very well and good and is a great help to those of us who are prepared to make that little extra effort to recycle.

There is, however, precious little - if anything - going on to educate people who can't be bothered even to place their bottles in a bottle bank. Nor do we see any enforcement whatsoever against the selfish people who dump old mattresses and unwanted furniture in or next to the communal black bins.

We haven't got the staff to police it, I hear them saying. Well actually, you don't need to. All that's needed is a bit of common sense and lateral thinking.

Let's offer £100 reward to anyone who can give information leading to successful prosecutions. See how many rogue builders want to fly-tip in our bins, if they think half a dozen people are likely to take their vehicle registration number. Equally, it might make people think twice before dumping that old mattress next to the communal bins if a passer-by is likely to take a quick photo of them with a mobile phone.

The fines, however, need to be pretty harsh in order to make a difference. If you have to pay an on-the-spot £1,000 fine, for example, are you likely to do it again?

As a nation, we need also to look more closely about how we deal with waste generally - and not just in the ideological way we seem to be tackling issues at present.

Why, for instance, have we allowed that great idea of deposits on bottles to slip away from us? What a great way of dealing with glass-recycling that was. There was little waste from glass in the days when a couple of old pence was added to the price of a bottled drink purchased from a shop or off-licence. What's wrong with having a 10p deposit these days. There would be much less broken glass lying about our streets then - of that, I am certain.

Also what - if anything - is being done to stop the amount of paper waste being poked through your front door with useless irrelevant information from energy companies and the like. Nobody ever reads that rubbish and in what is now a relatively paper-less society, this is seen by many as a complete waste of time and an insult to all we try to do and achieve in respect to recycling.

It's good news that plastic bags are allegedly to be phased out in the major supermarkets. But is that really going far enough? What about all the plastic bottles and packaging, none of which does much to improve the product?

It would be so much better if we could revert to glass bottles with deposits and look at alternatives for packaging. Perhaps divert some of the useless information packs coming from the utility companies for use by the packaging companies.

Perhaps we really need a fresh approach to the whole issue of reducing waste by not creating so much in the first place. As an exercise, try doing the weekly shop and then unwrap everything putting all the packaging into a pile. It certainly makes you think when it is apparent how much rubbish you have just purchased in the supermarket. Food for thought anyway...if you will excuse the pun.