Last week I was visited by a representative from my local council. When I opened the door a very cheerful women announced that she was calling round to explain the recycling service offered by the council. She handed me a leaflet which would explain what I could put into my recycling bin and another which introduced their e+ card which I should apply for. Apparently, being in possession of this magic card would enable me to claim free gifts in return for correct recycling. This all sounded very positive and proactive and so I thanked her, closed the door and got on with my work.
A couple of days passed after which I thought it might be a good idea to read the leaflets to confirm what I could now recycle and to find out where I could apply for the special card. The council’s efforts at recycling had always been less than impressive as there were only a few things you could actually put into the bin and so I was looking forward to improvements. I hate waste and it rankled with me that my local authority were doing little to minimise it.
On reading the leaflet I was rather shocked to find that nothing had changed. The list of recyclable items was still very short and was dwarfed by the list of material you could not put in the bin. Residents would still be required to transport the rest of their rubbish to a recycling centre themselves, which of course most people either will not or cannot do. A mountain of perfectly recyclable material was still going to end up in landfill.
The card annoyed me too. The idea is that your bins are checked and if you have no banned items in there you are rewarded with points on your card. In other words this is not so much an incentive scheme as an audit and I am sure that this will eventually lead to sanctions or charges being imposed on those who do not play ball. The council really should focus on recycling more rather than punishing their residents for making a mistake. I now wished that I had looked at the leaflets whilst the woman was on my doorstep. I could have good have vented my spleen right there and then but I didn’t have my reading glasses and so could not see them!
To make matters worse the e+ card which does rather imply that it is electronic cannot be applied for online. If I want one of these things I have to present myself at the council offices or local sports centre with documents to prove my identity. This is absurd! I pay £2000 per year in council tax and the account is in my name. Why do I need to prove I live here to get a card? I obviously live here otherwise why would I be paying all that money? I am quite inclined not to get a card except that the things also get you discounts at the sports centres and I would like to take advantage of these.
What promised to be a new dawn had turned out to be a case of same old S*** just another day. If I want to recycle my food trays, yoghurt pots, foil, glass bottles and plastic bags I still have to collect them in something and then drive them to the appropriate place myself. Those journeys use valuable fuel and cause me to emit more co2. Even worse, most people don’t bother and just send everything to landfill. The council have to come here to collect the items they will accept so could they not help save the planet by collecting everything whilst they are here?