It seems that to save the world we have to be badgered on a daily basis with new government proposals, which will not be implemented for at least four or five years, and which are half baked anyway. They are running them up the mast. to see who salutes them as usual, but this won’t stop a few U-turns anyway. The status quo where I live, is no doubt different to a lot of other places in the Kingdom, but it consists of each householder having three bins, green, blue, and a grey black one – green, garden waste; another for cardboard, plastic and waste paper; and the third, household refuse for landfill. These bins are emptied once a fortnight and the green bin and the black bin can become abominably smelly in the meantime.
According to television, the government’s latest proposals, which may or may not be applicable to the green and blue bins, is that local authorities will have a choice of using bins with a chip which will weigh the contents and exact payment accordingly; or it may be the supply of bags which the householder purchases and fills with the bags in which they collect the food and other waste. The third system is for small bins which are included in the standard rate. It would seem that the system choice will be made by the local council and we will have no say. In view of the fact that waste disposal will inevitably be partially included in the domestic rate, any charges will have to be for excess above some given limits.
I see a number of problem issues, not least the plight of the pensioner, which I will deal with separately. Some people, pensioners included, find it essential to put their bin out at night as the bins are required by the authority to be on the kerbside at 7:30 a.m.. This alone, if weight is going to be a factor, will present an opportunity during the night for fly tippers to put their waste in other peoples’ bins, leaving them to pay the excess. By the same token if it is bags instead of bins, these can be ripped open by dogs, foxes, or malicious individuals.
Another issue is the disparity between family situations, from the wealthy husband and wife, both working, living in a flat where the gardening is done on contract, and largely eating out. These people within their rates charge will be subsidising the rest. The family consisting of a husband and wife and three children, husband and wife both working, for convenience and speed will buy a large proportion of their foodstuffs packaged, in consequence of which their contribution to both recycling and landfill will be considerably greater than the norm, and if they have to pay the extra, it will be a burden on the underprivileged. There are two other aspects worthy of consideration. One is the fact that the householder has no control over packaging which has reached. absurd proportions – huge containers for small items to draw attention to the product and serve no other purpose, or duplicated wrappings for the same reason. The other is the quantity of junk mail that we now receive. If private individuals choose, en masse, to reject food which is over-packed, and will not accept junk mail, because it will cost them money, this could induce problems for those companies involved.
Pensioners spend little, because their needs are little or they have little to spend, but are generally suffering physical deterioration. In consequence theirs will be the bins and bags set out overnight, and probably none of them should ever be charged for excess weight, but, their bins could be the ones to be topped up in the hours of darkness, or have other bags added.
I am aware that what I’m about to say cannot be applied generally, but here in the North of Ireland, and in Belfast in particular, land reclamation has been the key to not only waste disposal, but the expansion of the service areas of the city. It is true, that the land has to lie fallow for some time to overcome gases such as methane and also general settlement, and that the major properties being built there need to be piled. The area being filled is unsightly, and would be unsuitable for towns that are holiday resorts. The sites require to be those in estuaries and where the fetch, (the distance to the nearest land mass over which the prevailing winds will blow, causing wave problems), is not sufficient to cause coastal erosion.