Rubbish is fast becoming the new gold as cost of raw materials rises

Filed in Waste News by on August 12, 2008 11 Comments
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rubbish is now valuable for recycling
This is what we like to see. Ok, we’d love it if people and companies recycled more because it benefits the environment, but that’s not always the reality. So if we can bring cold, hard cash into the equation, I think we might see some significant changes.

Just as my view is that people who don’t recycle should not be fined, but those who do should be rewarded. It’s like dogs and kids – reward the good behaviour before punishing the bad 😉

What do you think?

This article was written by August 11, 2008

Dented bean tins and crumpled drink cans may be rubbish to most of us, but to the recycling teams who collect them from the kerbside they have the glint of prospector’s gold.

For people living in areas that have recognised the value of waste, the effort made to recycle can reduce council tax bills. Residents of Westminster have benefited from the seven-year deal in which the council ensured it received a share of recycling profits. The authority was able to claim back a portion of the income derived when the price of materials rose. Mark Banks, waste strategy manager at Westminster, said: “We are trying to get a balance between trying to keep council tax low and trying to avoid the high cost of landfill.”

“We need to benefit from increases in the market and not suffer too much from a downturn. Authorities need to balance the risk to the local taxpayer, while contractors will write in their own profit margin. But a fixed price on profits is the more common model as far as I am aware.” Read more

About the Author ()

I am a long time supporter of the Green and Sustainable lifestyle. After being caught in the Boscastle floods in 2004, our family begun a journey to respect and promote the importance of Earth's fragile ecosystem, that focussed on reducing waste. Inspired by the beauty and resourcefulness of this wonderful planet, I have published numerous magazine articles on green issues and the author of four books.

Comments (11)

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  1. Hi Mrs Green,

    Aluminium is one of the most useful materials to recycle, cans especially. The Government is again considering the return value approach to raising the recycle rate from an appalling 30-40% to as near to 100% as practicable. Adding 20p to the price will give the empty can value. They are reluctant to do this but it would deliver the improved recycling percentage. Surely a worthy target.

    Returning benefits to householders should be considered to encourage full participation. Your local council is leading the way in several areas. Maybe they can lead by example again.

  2. Mrs Green says:

    Hi John,
    I’d heard that aluminium was one of the most useful materials and it can be used to raise money for charities too.

    Are you talking about a return price, like a deposit on a bottle for aluminium? I didn’t quite understand what you meant.

    We’ll take our council one step at a time; let’s hope that the zero waste week gets enough interest for better recycling facilities to be a real consideration………..

  3. Hi Mrs Green,

    It is an old fashioned deposit and it gives value to the can. Instead of binning them as they did in my previous airport job by the hundred every day, the cans could be collected by youngsters in bags and thence to a shoppe, as in olden times.
    Something like this has to be done as there is no viable alternative apart from throwing your hands up in the air in frustration. This Government is well past its sell-by date.

  4. Mrs Green says:

    I do remember a deposit on the 1 litre fizzy pop glass bottles – 10p I believe when I was a child. Not for aluminium cans though; I think we used to collect those for charity somewhere.

    I’m sure I used to take the glass bottles back to the shop and spend the money on sweets. 😉

    There is a great post on Paul’s Blog about people getting 10p to return cups at the BBC big recycle weekend.

  5. Hi Mrs Green,

    I saw Paul’s blog previously and many others in the Carnival. The poem for a letter opener was good. She could do a landfill song, as an anthem for Zero “Wasters”.
    There have been previous schemes for bottles but the can situation needs action simply because metal resources are in demand in the economy as well as the recycling issue.
    A youngster could collect many and have some decent pocket money. A different situation from 1 or 2 bottles.

  6. Mrs Green says:

    Oh yes, now we need an official anthem for Zero waste week, don’t you think?!
    I know Little Miss Green would happily collect litter if there was a financial reward (she does it now for nothing!). It would be a fine pocket money earner…..

  7. Hi Mrs Green,

    The more songs the merrier. I used the term “wasters” thinking about the oppositions feelings for us.

    The cans could be collected over a period until a decent bag full was reached. Ideally they could be taken to a particular location, eg council bin area, for safe transfer.
    A campaign like this would help Zero Waste generally.

    I saw MyZeroWaste and TheRubbishDiet mentioned in an ECO news thing under a google search. It was a good plug and they also were looking for other related blogs.

  8. Mrs Green says:

    Which search was this, John – do you remember? I’m compiling a list of place where we have been mentioned, so I’d be interested to see what you found.

  9. Julie Taylor says:

    Hi have been a long time user of the milman and returnable bottles which they then clean and reuse about 6 times until they are crushed into new bottles. Having to cut living costs for the next few months the milkman had to go and now having to get plastic containers from the supermarket and it really gets to me. Granted i worked out we spent approx 9 extra a month to get milk delivered to the door, but it keeps the milkman in a job and you get it fresh and no plastic. I will definately go back to it and encourage more people to, hopefully cut down on some of the waste, i anticipate 20 plastic milk containers a month getting recycled from me which is disgusting.

  10. HI Mrs Green,

    I did a google using “myzerowaste”. There were 1440 items to look through.

  11. Mrs Green says:

    Hi Julie,
    These ethical choices are not always clear cut are they? What is better for the environment and local economy might not be better for our personal finances and these are the decisions we face whenever we take on a lifestyle choice with enthusiasm.
    I guess with the ‘expense’ of the milkman, you are paying for the convenience of having milk delivered to the door. For independent milkmen, who do not work for a huge milk marketing company, their overheads and need to recoup costs is even more challenging.
    I admire your choice – we’ve done similar things as there comes a point where we have to look at the overall ‘cost’ of things, which doesn’t end with our own bank balance.

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