Thursday, August 02, 2018

Recycling

What an absolute mess is recycling in this country and the blame is not on the individuals but with with the way our rubbish recycling is set up.

Our first visit to England in 2008 one day involved, before a lovely Sunday pub lunch, was a stop off to leave bottles at a bottle deposit depot. Green glass in one bin, brown glass in another, clear glass in another.

Our Friend in Japan has to micro sort her recyclables before putting them out for collection.

What do we do in Australia? We chuck anything that is recyclable into one big bin and much of it was exported to China for sorting. China paid us for the recyclables with the money going to whichever company sent them, who in turn paid a modest amount to our local councils who are responsible for the collection of recyclables.

Pollution of recyclables is when there is something in the recycling that should not be there; say used disposable baby nappies, or plastic bags. I can't vouch for these figures but off the top of my head, I think China likes the incoming recyclables with a pollution rate of no more than 8%. What was arriving from Australia had a pollution rate of around 13%. Is it any surprise that China said, no more! We will no longer pay you money to take your polluted rubbish.

Why is this so? Most people here take recycling seriously. We certainly do, but not everyone does. These photos in our building's basement were taken a few years ago and used in a previous post.





Later more signs were added saying 'no plastic bags' and the number of plastic bags did drop. Each time I take the walk of shame down to the basement with the contents of the plastic bag clinking away, I remove any plastic bags from the general recycling bins. I don't go through all the bins, about 14 are filled each week, just if I happen to notice any bags. I tip out the contents, which is normally appropriate for the bin, and put the plastic bag in the plastic bag bin. Why do people do this? It would be better if they just dumped the bag down the rubbish chute on their level.


I believe the US State of California with its high standards and tough laws does recycling pretty well, but not so in most other states, which is rather a shame. If found this rather interesting Youtube video explaining the workings in the Carbonlite plastic bottle recycling plant in California, where they turn plastic bottles into....plastic bottles. I don't know how common this is in the world, but it is a very impressive set up. You can watch the video here.

35 comments:

  1. I saw a story about the Japanese micro-sorting. I suspect it wouldn't happen here.
    We do try, but could undoubtedly do better.

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    1. EC, it could have happened here, but it is now too late.

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  2. I love the set up in your basement and wish there was more of that going on. Sadly, here in the Housing Trust flats, It's almost impossible to get people doing the right thing. I've made a fuss several times and there's progress, but only in my block of four flats. I don't know what goes on in other blocks, we all have just one recycling bin for four flats. There are over 100 flats here and not everyone cares enough to do the right thing and with people moving out and new ones moving in, you can see how it makes me just want to give up. Multiply that by the rest of even one city and the problem is huge.

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    1. River, I think one recycling bin for four flats, if it is a weekly collection, should be ok. You do the right thing, encourage others to do so. No one asks more of you than that, and you make a difference.

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    2. It's a fortnightly collection, with the off week being for "green waste" collection, that is lawn trimmings shrub prunings, swept up leaves etc.
      Does your building management take those individual bins to the recycle depot or do they all get dumped into the same mixed up collection truck like the rest of us? Because that would make your efforts a waste of time.

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  3. How cool of you to resort the recycling. I live in California and read that 35 percent of what people put in recycling bins in our city is "wishful recycling" and workers go through it by hand and throw it out. We have complicated rules. At our homes, glass, metal cans, paper and recyclable plastic go in one bin.

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    1. Terra, 35% is a disturbing figure but maybe our figure here is similar. Your system sounds like ours, but what is recyclable plastic? While trays that contain the meat you buy in supermarkets are marked recyclable, they are not always accepted as so.

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    2. black plastic meat trays, washed clean are recyclable, styrofoam ones, clean or not are NOT recyclable. no styrofoam packaging is recyclable.

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  4. Here in Meredith we recycle everything. In the State of New Hampshire each community decides how they handle their garbage. Meredith chose to recycle. We have 5 different recycle bins in our kitchen and when they get filled we bring them to our basement and then fill up the Highlander and bring it to the center. Then we go from spot to spot and deposit the items there. We even have a special spot for magazines, cardboard, and here is a new one. If you have something that you cannot use, but is still usable, like a lamp, small appliance, you can deposit that in the pre-loved room.
    I actually feel good about all that my town does!


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    1. Five bins in one kitchen?? I can't fit even one in my tiny kitchen, having a small 12 litre bin out in the enclosed back porch instead. I have a small bucket in a bit of space under the sink for daily waste and I empty it each evening into the porch bin. Out there I also have an old laundry hamper where I put all the recyclables.

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    2. Maribeth, I hate to think of the alternative for citizens of other areas of NH. Your system sounds brilliant, and well done your part of NH.

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    3. River, yes, not practical that way for you, but as happens in Japan, you mass collect and sort it out kerbside.

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    4. not even kerbside sorting, all of it from four flats, plus anyone else who sneaks their stuff in, goes into the one bin and that's it.

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    5. River, I do still believe that the majority want to do the right thing, and it is up to authorities to make it happen in a way that is practical for people and does actually mean things are well recycled.

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  5. It's all such a mess. Some people can't be educated....too lazy to try.

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    1. Lee, just to ponder, how in our lifetimes has littering become socially unacceptable compared to what happened in our youthful years.

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  6. The days of taking your lemonade bottle back to the shop, and receiving a penny for your trouble, are long gone. Maybe they should reintroduce the idea.

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    1. Cro, there will be a subsequent post the returnable deposit drink container.

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    2. We got sixpence for our bottles, (that's five cents), now all SA bottles and cans are worth ten cents.

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    3. River, I've been looking at all that. Ten cents is no more than a half penny now.

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  7. Recycling sure is a shambles in this country. The swiss were doing back in the seventies with special bins for each recyclable item. Are you watching "the war on waste'?

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    1. Diane, that is the way to do it properly. We Australians were given a very lazy way to do it. War on Waste? Heard it all before, preaching to the converted, yet I have learnt a lot from the tv programme and it is excellent.

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  8. We have special bins for each recyclable item.

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    1. Gosia, it seems Australia and some areas of the US are on their own with poor recycling.

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  9. Living an ultra conservative state...recycle here is on a very small scale. At present time our county (local govt) commissoners are working on how to get rid of wood waste. It seem to be quite expensive to have it shipped out and chipped down. Personal I believe they ought to let people take the usuable lumber and I bet it would cut down by a fourth.
    Coffee is on

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    1. Dora, timber is such a precious resource and I am surprised it can't be used locally.

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  10. It's a complicated business recycling.. not really but it takes a bit of effort and a lot of people aren't prepared to make that effort. Was an jnterssinte link Andrew, cute presenter too, not that you would have noticed that ☺

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    1. Grace, do you want me to deny anything? Do you think I would be so shallow when discussing an important subject? Are you saying my eyes kept dropping from his face to elsewhere? Damn, you know me too well.

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  11. We pretty much chuck here too.

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    1. It is so variable in your country Sandra, it seems.

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  12. China won't take ours anymore either and every time I visit the recycling center I can easily see why. People go there to dump trash in the big recycle bins, rather than pay for trash service. It's private here and expensive. So now many communities in Oregon have stopped picking up recycling curbside, because there's nowhere accepting it from the rubbish companies who used to make money off it, shipping it to China. They didn't stop recycling here altogether, but its limited more and the price of garbage collection went up again by $5 per billing period (two months). Contamination is high here of non recyclable material in the recycle bins. It's disgusting what people do and how it affects everything.

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    1. Stayer, given what you have said about Oregon, I am not surprised at what you say. It sounds like exactly the same as is happening here regarding China accepting our rubbish. The councils who collect the recycling are now having to pay, which will be reflected in our property owner's council rates.

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  13. When we lived in Germany 30 years ago councils could fine you for not placing glass, paper, plastic in the special huge bins they had in every suburb. Only real rubbish was allowed in the bins they collected once a week, and at the time we had 1 bin (like our green one) for every 3 apartments! So I still recycle now, at work I'm the one who takes all the printer cartridges to Officeworks for recycling, otherwise my colleagues just put them in the rubbish bins, and that so annoys me.

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    1. Sami, all I can say that is positive, is that recycling is now being drummed into children at primary school, so I think it will be ok in the future. My workplace is hopeless at recycling.

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