Blog: Plastic recycling pandemonium

Catherine Sleep | 6 July 2006

Britain creates three million tonnes of plastic waste each year, the vast majority of which comes from food and drink packaging. Householders are urged to engage in the recycling process, but some municipal councils have been slow to provide facilities. So it was with much excitement that my local paper announced a few weeks ago that plastic recycling bins were being placed in and around the town.

Sadly this was followed the following week by frustrated letters from many readers who had made the trip to the skip only to find no room at the inn. Local residents haven’t learned to crush plastic bottles so they take up less space, which is part of the problem, but essentially demand simply far outstripped supply. The good burghers of Tunbridge Wells were disgusted, yet again!

Doubtless the Council will try to increase provision of plastic recycling facilities, or even introduce kerbside collection. In the meantime the bad news is that people had a negative experience which may deter them from making the effort in future. This is outweighed by the good news that there is clearly a genuine will to recycle plastics, evidently far greater than the Council anticipated.

Meanwhile the London borough of Barnet is several steps ahead, with compulsory kerbside recycling of plastics already well established. It’s not been an easy ride for enforcers, and later this month two households will become the first in the country to be hauled into the courts for persistently failing to recycle. Carrots are all very well but some people still respond best to a stick.

Out and about with the recycling police


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