Mr Haret is right that many councils use commingling – or commangling as it’s sometimes called – that is the mixing up all recycling together. Why is that?
Here’s the basic problem – the government sets us recycling tonnage targets, a bit like the
For example, the paper gets so contaminated by glass fragments and the remnants of what was in the bottles and cans that no British papermaker can use it to make recycled paper. So it gets sent to the
The glass that goes to
But don’t take my word for it – ask the Campaign for Real Recycling, which was set up to try to improve the quality of UK recycling. They would prefer source-separated recycling ie separation at the point of collection, which is what
But there are, I think, three other possible solutions that mean not having to replace our entire fleet:
1) Separate out the glass from the commingled collection to minimise contamination. This could be done relatively easily by giving residents a separate bag for glass.
2) Collect paper and cardboard (“fibres”) separately from glass, plastic and metal (“containers”). This method allows reasonably easy automated separation of “containers” and it means any leftover food and drink in the “containers” doesn’t contaminate the paper. The whole of
3) Take the cost of waste and recycling out of the council tax and put it into the cost of the collection bag. Local shops could sell bar-coded, colour-coded bags. A black bag – for non-recyclable waste - would cost the most and a green bag – for the most valuable types of recycling eg metal and plastic – would cost the least. This is what
The Campaign for Real Recycling says commingling is the worst possible recycling system in terms of environmental impact and I agree. The Leader of Camden Council is on record as saying that kerbside commingled collections are of dubious environmental value. And commingling is the main reason that, after we won the 2006 election,