I have nothing against recycling. On the contrary, it’s clear our “consume and discard” culture is unsustainable and I’m happy to do my bit. What I’m not happy to do is the job of the refuse collectors who apparently get paid perfectly well for the privilege of turning up at my home once a fortnight and removing a mere fraction of my rotting household waste, leaving me to do the rest.
Like many boroughs, mine operates a fortnightly rubbish collection “service” (I use the term loosely), which means our standard wheelie bin is regularly expected to hold two weeks’-worth of waste as created by an average family of four. Yeah, right.
To help us along the way, this is alternated with a fortnightly collection of food waste, for which rather than being supplied a handy waste pod for our kitchen we are inexplicably issued a great hulking wheelie bin to clutter up the garden, with orders that only newspaper-wrapped food is to be placed within. The thought of two-week-old food waste rotting in my garden is bad enough at the best of times but picture the scene in the summer when the maggots get to grips with it all… It’s almost tempting to leave the lid up and serve the burgeoning local fox community a banquet, but on the basis that I’d probably be held responsible for a vicious attack on an under five I have yet to do this.
Recycling of plastic and glass is not compulsory down our way – it is “encouraged” by the council but the nearest they get to helping you do it is telling you where your nearest recycling facilities are. In practice, we have no option. Stick this stuff in the usual rubbish bag and the wheelie bin is full to bursting within days – and you can bet your life that if so much of a whisker of plastic is peeking out from beneath your lid the bin men will refuse to empty the thing. Cue another two weeks or a trip to the “local” (10-mile-away) tip to try and pass it off as home-decorating residue.
So instead I spend my life with a car boot full of oozing beer bottles fermenting all over the spare wheel (seriously, how many men do you know who bother to rinse their empties before sticking them in the bag?) or sneaking outside in the dead of night to stuff it all in my next-door neighbours’ bin, only to bump into them trying to do the same to mine.
We’re told that our food waste goes to the local farmers for fertiliser, paper is recycled for newsprint and much of the rest of it gets burnt for biofuel. Sounds good in theory but if recent reports are anything to go by, the vast majority of it still finds its way to landfill, meaning piles of steaming trash building up over whole swathes of local land AND piles of steaming trash sitting rotting in my garden while our local council collects more of our hard-earned cash than ever before for the privilege. For this reason I hereby consign fortnightly bin collections to Room 101, where they shall rot for eternity waiting for a non-existent collection.