Tuesday, 1 April 2008

The BBC, landfill and my own back garden

I know it's April 1st but I promise you this is no April Fool.

When I woke up yesterday morning I had no idea that by the evening I would have a BBC news team in my back garden, filming my recycling habits for today's Breakfast programme on BBC One.

Again, I know it's April Fool's Day, but the issue being covered is no joke. Today the landfill charge is being increased by £8 per tonne of waste in a major step by the government to encourage businesses and householders to recycle and compost more of their waste.

In financial terms, this means that the cost of waste disposal in the UK's landfill facilities will rise from £24 per tonne to £32 per tonne. Until now annual increases have been just £3 per tonne. However it appears likely that we will see further increases at the new level until at least 2010, when landfill tax is expected to reach £48 per tonne.

So it looks like there is something else to hit our pockets. Talk about kicking a man when he's already down and brow-beaten by other economic problems, but if our country has to meet the targets set by the European Landfill Directive, drastic action is needed.

If each and every one of us had to bury our own waste in our own back gardens, surely we would want to do something about reducing it well before the authorities come knocking on our door.

We are simply running out of space in the country's back garden, which we call landfill. Already this week we've seen Plymouth's landfill site close because it is full to capacity. The city's waste in now destined for alternative facilities in neighbouring Cornwall. Our local facilities in Suffolk are facing the same issues, with space expected to run out in six years time.

So it is no coincidence that more and more councils are choosing to change household waste collection to a bi-weekly service, with the aim of encouraging people to reduce their rubbish.

At the moment I don't mind paying the extra council tax that will need to be recovered to cope with the issue, as it will be a while yet before society gets used to having to reduce our levels of household and business waste. I just hope that some of the money collected by government is invested in improving recycling facilities to help alleviate the problems.

However, ask me the same question in a couple of years time when I might be a lot more hacked off if I have to pay for a share for my neighbours' waste to be dumped. I may not be so generous.

In the meantime, consumers should not become the "fall-guys" of waste management problems. The whole manufacturing and retail chain needs to demonstrate significant changes to help us reach the targets set by Europe. Councils across the UK also need to provide comprehensive recycling facilities that are both easy to use and effective. I feel lucky that our local authority offers excellent recycling services. I would certainly not be happy paying a local council for dumping my landfill waste on the basis of poor local facilities.

However, let's look on the bright side as it's not all doom and gloom. I recently highlighted on the Sustained website, the figures from Defra which reveal that non-recycled waste levels were lower in 2006/2007 than those recorded in 1983/1984. Having peaked in 2000 at 450 kilos per person, the annual figure for 2006/2007 was down to 351 kilos per person.

What this shows is that there are lots of folk out there who are already slimming their bins and having talked rubbish with so many others, I know there are plenty more people out there who would like to take proactive action too. We just need to capture their imagination and show them how easy it can be.

Anyway, if you're up early you'll see me briefly demonstrating my own recycling facilities on today's BBC Breakfast and later on News 24. Look closely and you may even get to see my lovely wormery. So it's definitely a case of the early bird catches the worm and all that.

Addendum: Have just come back from an interview at a Suffolk landfill site, which should also be on the BBC1 lunchtime news as well as other broadcasts throughout the day.

Useful sources:

More information on the 2008 budget and landfill tax can be found at Lets Recycle. Waste disposal statistics can be found at Defra.


Hertfordshire Gardener said...

It's good to see someone taking recycling seriously and after seeing you on tv, I found your blog.
I also have a wormery and a Bokashi Bin and recycle all the usual stuff.

Seeing your blog, makes me realise that we could do more!

Thanks for the tips and good luck with the broadcasting!

Almost Mrs Average said...

Hi Hertfordshire Gardener and thanks for passing by. It's great that you've got the same kit. Before I started trying to reduce my waste, I didn't even know that Bokashi existed, so I am glad to spread the message.

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