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Letter: Recycling Is ‘More Luck Than Judgement’

Published on: 15 Oct, 2021
Updated on: 15 Oct, 2021

From Brian Creese

Chairman of the Guildford Labour Party

Some of you may have noticed, Guildford Labour has recently been looking into rubbish – literally if you have seen our video looking through a rubbish sack and trying to decide what is and is not recyclable.

See Local Labour Party’s Light-Hearted Look At Our Bewildering Recycling Decisions

Photo BBC

When we started, we did not expect it to be so difficult, or for opinions to be so different on the rights and wrongs of recycling items.

Residents used to put as much as possible into the green bin for recycling, but recently there has been lots of discussion of recycling contamination, putting the wrong thing in your green bin might make the whole bin unusable – or even a whole truckload unusable.

That suggests you should only recycle what you are absolutely certain is right, which means you put more into the black bin – which feels the wrong thing to do.

It is easier for those who have individual bins, rather than those in flats with communal bins. Evidence suggests that recycling contamination is worse in these circumstances, and an individual’s careful sorting can be undone by the next, less thoughtful person using the bin.

The Guildford Dragon NEWS recently ran a story about 2,000 tonnes of Guildford waste annually ends up in unknown, un-monitored destinations, about 8%. At the weekend I was in Brighton, that haven of green government where there is currently a waste collection strike meaning all the bins are overflowing onto the street in a mixed mess of soggy cross-contamination.

It seems absolutely clear to me that the recycling system in this country does not work.

If any of our recycling ends up in the right place in a usable condition it is probably more a matter of luck than judgement.

It is surely time for us to re-invent this system so that we all understand what recycling goes in what bin in what state (everyone should know they should remove your cheese from pizza boxes first). I believe that most of us desperately want to recycle properly but just don’t know how to do it.

We need a massive shift in information involving manufacturers, retail, distribution, local and national government to ensure a consistent, clear and understandable system of labelling for every single piece of packaging, and providing a suitable receptacle for each and every piece of  recyclable material.

We currently have a large, expensive system which is not working. Let’s learn from where we are and design an effective system that does what we all want it to – provide a system for recycling as much as we can as effectively as possible.

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Responses to Letter: Recycling Is ‘More Luck Than Judgement’

  1. Bob Cowell Reply

    October 18, 2021 at 2:40 pm

    Most packaging is Polypropylene (Type 5) that Woking does not recycle. It infuriates me when packaging carries a recycling logo but with no information as to what type it is. I think it is a cop-out.

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