Tuesday, June 03, 2008


Kicking it up a notch with the spice weazle.

What a crap day. Foggy, rainy, cold, miserable..... woke up to the distant sound of a recycling wagon making its way along my street. It's a long street and the house numbers go well over a thousand.

The fact that I could hear the wagon could mean any of the following:
a) I slept very late.
b) The wagon was early.
c) I had already missed it.
d) I had to get up and check which way it was going and whether I could get my bin out in time.
e) I would not be able to find anything to pull on to go out in the rain.

In golfing pants and flip flops I trundle out with my bin, relieved that I haven't missed another monthly collection.

I like recycling. I like the fact that my rubbish bin, which is collected weekly, rarely has enough in it to warrant collecting it more than monthly. I'm in the process of ordering a compost bin to further reduce my landfill footprint.

I DO have issues with the way our recycling is done......

a) We have co-mingled collection, which means that paper, cardboard, tin cans and plastic bottles are all mixed together in a big green bin.
b) We currently have no glass collection service.

The problems with co-mingled recyclables is that they are actually fairly worthless. Most local councils that opt for co-mingled are just embarking on a number crunching exercise to obtain the relevant targets with no regard for what happens to our rubbish, other than the fact that it's less in our conventional grey bins.

Take for example plastic bottles..... from co-mingled waste, it's not cost effective enough to get someone to sort it all out so we ship it out to china, and thirty miles away from the place that is shipping it out there, there's a place that's importing plastic bottles from Germany.

The councils that do collect glass and mix it all up are effectively destroying the value..... co-mingled glass is broken up and used for creating roads (i.e. another form of landfill) - Those glass bins at the supermarket are much better when you separate your own colours of glass.... one bin for green... one brown.... one white.... the value of glass collected in this manner is much higher and can be put to good use.

There is actually no substitute for finding a good recycler..... there's no real lazy solution.

What to do when you can't be arsed to blog?

4) Widget!!

Invest some time in a crappy widget that will inevitably slow down your page loading times..... I've got loads of 'em over there on the right hand side if you don't believe me.... one plays music.... one is my (sporadically updated) bowling cam..... one for the moon phase.... one for the weather.... an Iraqi civilian death counter..... and even a defunct polling booth.... and here's another for good measure!!

My blog is worth $6,774.48.
How much is your blog worth?


  1. My brother in law actually saw the workers at our local tip emptying the recycling bins into the main tip area with everything else.
    Just cant quite bring myself to believe its worth doing now since they just mix it all up again
    Pol x

  2. Well my blog is a whopping great $0. See...I knew the man was monitoring my subversive revolutionary plans. Bastards.

  3. Pol: That's exactly what I am saying... a lot of councils are just using it as an exercise to say x tonnes of recycling was collected and thus we get x millions of quid from central government because they in turn don't get fined by EU for tipping too much into landfill... it's a scam unless it's segregated.

    Kenny: I am sure Jakob Nielsen would put a much higher price on your blog than he would on mine.... and I know whose opinion I would value more!!

  4. Our recycling bin rules have just changed from "garden waste plus < 25% cardboard" to "garden waste plus food waste + cardboard" which means our mini-landfill bin will have even less in it in future. But our over-filled compost bins will have less in, as the kitchen waste can now go in the brown bin.

    Didn't know that about the glass. Our council collects it, all mixed up together. I think the local Tesco recycling unit, which (slowly) sorts stuff for you, mixes all the glass together, too. We already go to the local recycling centre with plastics, so maybe I'll do the same for glass.

  5. mister fox, i think you have been taken in by the arguments of the campaign for real recycling regarding comingled collections. incredibly hi-tech MRFs (that's materals recycling facilities) are coming on stream now that can sort and separate all the different materials - including the different types of plastics - to very high standards. the different material streams, say plastics, are then sent onto specific plastic recycling plants that can granulate or shred them down into a raw material ready for re-manufacture. you are now even seeing 'closed loop' recycling plants that are turning it back into plastic bottles/packaging fit for supermarkets etc. the stuff that does go to china is that where there isn't yet an established end-market for it in the UK - like mixed plastics (film, marg tubs) and that are still proving challenging to separate to a quality fraction. but we do have the technology to deal with this, it's just a matter of time.

    also, on the china issue, the UK is a huge net importer of goods from china - these goods get shipped to us in crates - and recycled materials are shipped back in return. if we didn't do this, those crates would go back empty and may make a deviation into other european ports to collect materials there. that would be a huge impact on carbon footprints and energy etc. the chinese ports are also tightening up their inspection regimes and starting to turn back any loads where the quality is poor. the thing is, if it didn't go to china - where it can be used as a resource, it would only go to landfill here. so what is worse?

    sorry to rattle on, but i write about all this stuff for my job!

  6. Maxxo: you are right to "rattle on" about it!!

    The problem as I see it.... let's look at a company like LinPac - one of the country's best known and most innovative recycling companies.... buying in their plastics from Europe because they have proper sorting facilities.... where, within thirty miles (I forget the name of the MRF) they are shipping their plastics to China because they can not cost effectively sort it to the grade required by LinPac!!

    It's just one example, I know, but it's true and it makes no sense to me.... not all local councils send their recyclables to MRFs.... and not all councils go in for comingled collections either..... I saw something recently in one council where their glass collection service was even sorting their glass at the doorstep for them into the relevant colours... that's the kind of service we need delivered to our doorsteps..... we don't even have a glass collection service here!!

    The point I am trying to make is that everyone needs to be aware fo what happens to their recyclables and which are the best options for them... just because it goes into a recycling bin does not mean that it is being dealt with in the most suitable manner that you might wish.

  7. i agree. not every council is doing it right, so to speak. and it's not a perfect situation out there. i just wanted to make the point that it's not black and white, and there are a lot of factors to consider.

    cost is one - many councils cannot afford to sort out recyclables at the kerbside; comingled is cheaper in terms of vehicles out on the road, efficiencies etc.

    where you live is another - urban areas with lots of high rise flats etc, and multi-ethnic communities make it almost impossible to sort and separate stuff out at the kerbside.

    it mainly depends on local circumstance, and how far a MRF is to the council. if it's too far away it's just not cost-effective to transport stuff there.

    which brings me onto another point - loads more recycling facilities are needed in this country to deal with all the material collected; we just don't have enough infrastructure in place to process it all.

    personally, i think we should concentrate on waste minimisation more - throwing less rubbish out to begin with. that means ... reuse, home composting, changing the way we shop, supermarkets getting rid of BOGOF deals, and so on.

  8. Where are you Mr FoX?
    It's been nearly a week! Not like you at all!
    Hope you are ok
    Pol x

  9. Hi Mr WWW Fox
    Did You recieve The Cuban-Thing?

  10. I think the Fox has gone to China for recycling.

  11. Just popping by to say hello because it's been too long since I've done so!

    Hope all is well in your little corner of the world.

    PS That bit on the recycling has got me all churned up. Our collection is the same way, although I took it upon myself to get extra bins and I do separate ours. Our trucks have different openings for the different categories, but now I wonder of all those different openings lead to the exact same center compartment of the truck. Hmmm...

  12. It has now been 2 weeks since your last post, lazy blogger you!
    Pol x

  13. Probably no point but i tagged you..
    Pol x

  14. A-har! I fished 'im up, chopped 'im up and fed 'im as a tasty treaty to a gang of 'ungry 'oodies 'angin' around on a street corner.

    Ahoy there, me 'earties. Fish fingers!

  15. Come on FoX we miss you!
    Pol x

  16. hi mate, this is the canadin pharmacy you asked me about: the link

  17. Dear Mr Fox...
    As soon as HMP Armley release you I hope you will start blogging again. Seriously what's up doc? Has it simply been some kind of computer failure? That's what I am putting my money on.
    Mr Pudding

  18. Why are we waiting....
    Come back FoX
    Love to Dawn
    Pol x

  19. Have the recycling police hunted you down for causing a stir???
    Pol x