Friday, August 22, 2008

Recycling Revolution

There was a briefing today for councillors about Stockton's recycling revolution which will happen as a result of the scrutiny review I chaired earlier in the year. As the officer doing the presentation said, some tough decisions were taken. My own personal inclination would have been to go further down the road to strong encouragement of reducing waste and recycling whatever we can, but in the end I had to compromise in order to carry the majority. I still believe we took decisions for the right reasons and I'm convinced they'll help in our aim to reduce, re-use and then recycle at least 40% of domestic waste in 2 years' time. Of course, that's only part of the story. The government doesn't set the council any targets for commercial waste so the council doesn't put any effort into encouraging recycling by those people. All the office blocks around the borough don't have any targets for recycling unless the company concerned has such a policy. How much waste paper is that? How many drinks cans and plastic bottles? Some might think the council should be doing something about it anyway, but that would mean using tax-payers' money on things which the government doesn't think sufficiently important to count towards anything. So when Stockton Council had to account for how it has spent the money it would be saying that some was spent on a service which the government didn't want and the people of the borough haven't asked for! Not a good idea - 4 stars down the drain! No chief executive or leader of the council is going to go down that route.
There has to be another way but can you imagine a Labour government, much less a Tory one, forcing industry or business to do something good for the environment? Not on their past record. So we have to rely on individuals putting pressure on their own workplace to improve.
Sadly, village halls and community centres fall under the commercial heading on this, so when there's a party there and dozens of cans and bottles are collected up at the end where do they go? Either the zealous organisers take them home and pretend that the party happened there or they go straight into the bin and to the incinerator or land fill instead of their precious material being recycled. Where's the sense in that?
Still, look on the bright side - houses across the borough will have cardboard and plastic recycling collections by next autumn, with the first lucky homes starting this autumn. The lucky ones include most of our ward apart from the farms, rural hamlets and those who are on the same collection round as them. I look forward to seeing the recycling rate in Eaglescliffe rocket and at the same time our residual waste amounts drop dramatically. If we can all become more aware of the need to reduce consumption we'll soon make a difference.

1 comment:

thribble said...

We have a department of climate change! It released a green paper a few weeks ago. There are 7.6 million businesses in Australia and the government is imposing the regs only on the top 1000 - that's a massive change from what was first talked about. Still, I suppose it's a start.