December 29th, 2010 by Richard Lord
The Guernsey Recycling Advisory Forum (GRAF) laid down a challenge before Christmas – Could Guernsey residents send less waste to the Mont Cuet landfill in December 2010 than they did in December 2009?
We will know whether Guernsey residents met this challenge in January 2011 when the December figure is published.
What is obvious from a casual observation of garbage put out for collection on St Peter Port streets is the amount of recyclable material that is still entering the waste stream destined for the Mont Cuet landfill.
Black bin bags lined Pedvin Street on Monday 27 December in anticipation of collection, which occurred on Tuesday night. One bin bag revealed a quantity of recyclable material including plastic PET bottles, paper, and tin cans.
Cardboard boxes, which can be recycled, appeared to form the bulk of the contents of many black bin bags placed on the street for collection.
On Hauteville there was a residence with two lid-less Eurobins. In the bins were bags of aluminium cans, glass bottles, plastic bottles, and some recyclable plastic (PET) biscuit and chocolate trays.
A young man came to the door of the large house. He said he didn’t know about recycling. He said he was Latvian and seven or eight people lived in the house.
As much recyclable material as possible was removed from the Eurobins but by the following day more aluminium cans had been added to the bins, which hadn’t yet been emptied.
This illustrates that every family or individual moving to Guernsey for the first time should be given information on how to recycle.
A recent survey by Island Analysis found that kerbside recycling was the most popular option for enabling non-recyclers to recycle.
The survey asked people if they would be willing to pay for kerbside collection. Sixty-nine percent of the respondents indicated that they were not willing to pay for kerbside collection.
However, our community already pays for kerbside collection of garbage but the price of collection is based on the size of the property rather than on the amount of garbage produced. This billing system provides no incentive to recycle.
Many Guernsey’s households already split their waste stream into a recyclable and a residual waste stream by not mixing recyclables with residual waste in the first place.
For a kerbside collection of recyclable material and garbage, the total amount of material put out onto the street could remain the same, although hopefully it will diminish in time as goods carry less packaging, but the cost of collection would be borne by the amount of residual waste produced to give an incentive to each householder to recycle as much as possible.
This system already works in many European countries. Recyclable material is placed in transparent bags so it can be checked during pick-up. If non-recyclable material is placed in the bag it is not collected.
At the moment there is no mechanism for recyclers to pay less for their household collection of garbage even though they put out less waste than non-recyclers. Recyclers are therefore subsidising non-recyclers. The sooner this absurd situation changes the better able Guernsey will be to manage its household waste stream.