Wednesday, October 15, 2003

Talking rubbish

A bill to force councils to recycle 30 percent of household waste has cleared its final hurdle in the UK parliament.

In future, at least two types of waste must be collected from homes for recycling. However, what is the purpose of this recycling? It is not to claim back scarce resources, since more than 55 percent of household waste is garden and kitchen waste, good for compost but not a lot else, and paper, which is produced on such a large scale now that it is basically an agricultural product. It is not more economic - it is almost certainly cheaper to bury and burn waste than to try to recycle it. It may not even reduce pollution overall, given that the new regime will demand more diesel-burning trucks on the road, more often, to collect all the separated waste.

No, this is about imposing a new kind of morality, one which sees humans as essentially wasteful and wants to remind us of that fact every time we dispose of rubbish. And our penance for such sinful behaviour will be to wade through our trash on a daily basis. The new law also provides a degraded sense of common purpose, all doing our little bit for the environment. What a waste.

Recycling package set to become law, Scotsman, 14 October 2003

Recycling religion, Spiked, 16 January 2003

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