February 26th, 2009 by André
THERE is a lot of rubbish talked about rubbish. Why is it that when we are perfectly capable of buying and transporting home jars of jam, tins of soup and bottles of drink, we seem to find it so much of a problem taking the empty containers to a recycling site, even to the extent that some islanders are demanding a kerbside collection service? Unfortunately they have confused refuse (food waste etc.) with recyclable material. The old chicken bones and food leftovers must be dealt with by teams of professional waste-disposal companies (our bin men) in order to safeguard public health. The plastic bottles we rinse and recycle, however, do not require specialist contractors in order to find their way to the nearest recycling site. The same can be said for the glass and tins etc.
The States have given the island a 50% recycling target and quite right too. We have no more suitable holes in the ground and more to the point, no money (or appetite) for a huge incinerator. Surely then, to reach this target we must stop pussy-footing around and instead of the gentle persuasion, education and coaxing to recycle we have seen so far, we should introduce mandatory recycling. Quite simply it should be against the law to put currently recyclable materials into our dustbins.
Now, of course there are people who will ask how this might be policed. I believe that, in general, islanders are law abiding and that a change in the law would be the necessary motivation for those ordinary, decent people who have not quite ‘got around’ to recycling. The aim of mandatory recycling would be to rapidly increase the recycling rate in order to achieve our target.
There is a proven principle at work here – for example, the use of mobile phones while driving is fast becoming socially unacceptable due to the fact that common sense is upheld by the law. This same principle would apply to mandatory recycling. Of course a stiff fine for anyone who is found mixing their recyclables with their refuse would be a further incentive.
If States members are serious about achieving the 50% target, then they should at least consider this proposal, which would cost far less than pandering to those members of our society who wave the green flag but cannot be bothered to pop past their local recycling site on their way to the supermarket.
If anyone can give me a good reason as to why we should not adopt mandatory recycling, I would be interested to hear it. If I get a flood of emails from deputies pointing out a huge flaw in my idea, then I will perhaps have to rethink things. If not, however, I will have to assume that our elected representatives are not really committed to recycling and are just biding their time until the ‘big burner’ arrives.