Too much recyclable material is going to the Mont Cuet landfill

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.

Plastic bottles and tins that were in this black bin bag for collection can be recycled at Guernsey's bring banks ( Photographed on 27 December 2010 - click image to expand)

Black bin bags with recyclable material in them (click image to expand)

Black bin bags at the top of Pedvin Street with cardboard in them, which can be recycled (click image to expand)

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.

Beer cans can be recycled instead of ending up in the Mont Cuet landfill (click image to expand)

Coke cans can be recycled at the bring banks instead of ending up in the Mont Cuet landfill (click image to expand)

Bags of recyclates taken out of the bins that contain garbage destined for the Mont Cuet landfill (click image to expand)

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.

Some of the recyclable material that was removed from two bins that had garbage destined for the Mont Cuet landfill. (click image to expand)

A recent survey by Island Analysis found that kerbside recycling was the most popular option for enabling non-recyclers to recycle.

Black bin bags on George Road waiting for collection. These contained recyclable cardboard, aluminium cans, plastic bottles, textiles, and milk cartons (click image to expand)

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.

Recyclable milk cartons in a black bin bag on George Road which should be destined for the bring banks instead will end up in the Mont Cuet landfill (click image to expand)

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.

4 Responses to “Too much recyclable material is going to the Mont Cuet landfill”

  1. rosie dorey

    This situation is ludicrous. While some people do their absolute best to reduce the amount of waste destined for Mont Cuet there are others who, either through ignorance or disinterest, are sending huge amounts of valuable materials to landfill where they create a problem for the whole community.

    This will continue until our system of waste collection makes it quite clear that only ‘residual’ waste can be left out for the bin-men.

    We can ‘plead’ for more recycling until we are blue in the face……. sadly there is none so deaf as those who will not hear. And why should they hear when as far as they are concerned, there is no benefit to be had from recycling and reducing waste.

  2. Jo

    I really believe that kerbside collections are the only way to go. A collection system whereby recyclable materials are collected at no charge and black bags are charged by weight means that people have the incentive to keep their ‘waste’ separate.

    Of course people should not have to pay for kerbside collection of recyclables – in what kind of world would we be charged for doing the right thing, yet be able to put out pretty much any amount of black bag waste at no extra cost?

    Imagine if there was no rubbish collection system at all and someone proposed that we should charge people according to how big their house was whilst allowing them to put out as much rubbish as they liked and at the same time told them to drive their recyclable materials to a headland or supermarket car park, if they felt like it, the proposal would be laughed out of the house – yet that is what we do!

  3. Lorre

    Well said.
    Took the taps of of my keyboard.
    Maybe we should look at having a week of putting our sorted rubbish out on the step and see/follow what happens?

  4. rosie dorey


    You are absolutely right although in order to encourage us all to reduce ALL of our waste, including what needs to be recycled, we probably should still charge for kerbside collections of recyclates. However this should be a minimal cost and supplemented by by the much greater cost of ‘residual’ waste collections.

    If food and the smelly aspect of our waste was collected separately and put through some sort of composting system, the remaining ‘residual’ waste would only need to be collected fortnightly and that would reduce the costs of residual collection, partly counterbalancing the greater recyclate collection costs.

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