T'eyla Minh (teylaminh) wrote,
T'eyla Minh

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An Environment-Conscious Birmingham?

I wrote this entry about a month ago, and then didn't post it. I think it was a bit before my temporary spaz-out when I half-threatened to leave LJ (those who didn't notice - case in point) due to various factors that I don't want to go into... Anyway, I just re-read, and as the issue is still valid, I may as well just post it... The original post is between the horizontal lines.

So, I while back I watched a short series on Channel 4 entitled Dumped. This was a five-episode reality show where a group of people were deposited inside a rubbish tip and asked to complete various challenges such as creating suitable shelter and making a life for themselves by living off nothing but the waste around them. The members of the group were from various different walks of life, all with different approaches to recycling, ranging from environmental activists to some idiot who only ever wore brand new underwear...

Obviously, it wasn't a real tip, but one that the producers had built near a South London landfill site. There was a working waste management site nearby, and the majority of the group's dump was commercial waste, so there were plenty of pallets and tarpaulins for them to use.

Anyway, it highlighted the quite shocking amount of household rubbish that is thrown away in Britain each year, and as a result I've become even more recycling-conscious than before...

In our area (and in pretty much all of Birmingham, I imagine), we get fortnightly recycling collections in addition to the weekly rubbish collections. The Council provides us with bags (or more recently, plastic boxes) for paper and boxes for glass/plastic/metal containers like bottles and cans.

This is all fine and dandy; Paul and I are conscious to recycle our scrap paper, newspapers, boxes, empty bottles and cans. I don't actually know how much of the latter actually does get recycled, as it happens, because plastic is very difficult to recycle, as there are so many different types. You'd think manufacturers would use one type of plastic for bottles, but apparently not. All those milk bottles, detergent bottles, pop bottles, washing-up liquid bottles - they're all made of different plastics, and hence they are very, very time-consuming to sort through. (This point was highlighted in Dumped during the 'find-junk-for-the-scrapman-and-earn-money' task, where one member spent all of her time collecting all the plastic she could find - mostly because she had a personal grievance against plastic being thrown away as it takes years to degrade. The entire skip's worth of plastic was completely worthless, because it wasn't sorted out into the different sorts of plastic.

There's really no excuse for not sorting it out, because the type of plastic is generally printed / embossed onto it in much the same way as on drinks cans. It's just too time-consuming for the majority of waste disposal sites to go through it, so it gets dumped.

This is apparently the case in Birmingham. Whether it's down to sheer laziness or just a lack of resources is debatable.

See, back when I installed my scanner and new monitor, I put the empty cardboard boxes to one side for the recycling people to take, and whilst doing so I noticed that the polystyrene (i.e plastic) packaging had the little "this item is recyclable" symbol on it.

So I put it into a bag and left it on top of the paper bag on recycling day.

Later that afternoon, nobody had taken it. Kind of refreshing that at least the normal binmen ignored it as well, but at the same time, annoying that the recycling collectors ignored it first.

I've still got it to this day as I've been trying to find out where I can recycle it. On perusing the Birmingham website this morning it seems they recycle and remove almost all types of public and commercial waste from paper to asbestos, but there is no mention anywhere of a place suitable to recycle polystyrene.

Paul spoke to a bloke in his office who knows about this sort of thing, who advised that there is nowhere in Birmingham to recycle it, but we could take it to Tyseley Waste Disposal and they'll chuck it on the landfill. Well, er... no, thank you. I'm trying to save the environment, here.

I think this needs to be brought to someone's attention. I can't believe a city as large as Birmingham doesn't have the facilities to recycle polystyrene, considering it's just a form of plastic.

I think I'll write to my MP. :P

As it happens, I didn't end up writing to my MP, although by all accounts he seems like a very nice bloke and would probably be more than willing to listen to my plight. I still think this is appalling, quite frankly, more so that the only feasible suggestion was to dump it rather than attempt to recycle it.

I honestly feel like finding somewhere in Britain that will recycle polystyrene, just to prove a point: that is, I will have to travel there by train, and get a taxi, just to recycle something, thus producing several litres of CO2 and wasting lots of hard-earned money because my local recycling facilities are useless. Thus, amount of pollution saved by recycling < amount of pollution caused by trying to recycle it.

But I think that would just make me look stupid. It would, however, be very ironic.

Obviously, I still have the polystyrene. The next plan is to just put it in the bloody plastics / glass box and hope it gets taken that way. Our recycling collectors are lazy bastards, anyway - they don't come until 11.00am, and then, when they haphazardly empty the boxes into their wheely bins, they don't even bother to pick up the stuff they drop. It's more than likely they just couldn't be arsed to open the bin liner to remove the polystyrene in the first place...

I still blame Channel 4...

In other other news, I didn't sleep well last night. I was tired until Paul came back from whatever gig he'd gone to, but then he was annoying at me and it made me wide awake again. Plus is felt like something had died in my stomach again, though it seems fine this morning. Took me ages to get to sleep. Knackered today... TGIF.
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