Are you a conscientious recycler or someone doing it under imposition from your local council and because you feel you have no option? Do you have a slop bucket for food waste (sorry I should have said, ‘a domestic organic waste caddy’) and put it out for collection each week in the believe that your left-overs are going towards generating power, reducing greenhouse emissions or being converted into compost and that by doing so that you are saving the planet and helping to stave off global warming? Would you be surprised to learn that your actions don’t quite match with what it says on the tin?
I am not against recycling at all; just a little cynical as to whether this drive towards ‘green’ and ‘recycling’ is as beneficial and advantageous as we are lead to believe in terms of both cost and resources.
Under present Government policy a fifth of all homes in England and Wales have buckets solely for food waste with the intention this is extended countrywide by 2016. However, the state’s recycling advice body Waste and Resources Action Programme, ( WRAP), has some way to go before it comes up smelling of roses. There are only 46 plants or ‘anaerobic digesters’ for food recycling in Britain which can convert the food waste into bio-gas and ‘digestate’. Evidently part of the problem is that the food waste is there but the market for its disposal isn’t. And the cost of collection, transportation and disposal for some councils probably outweighs any efficiency savings or improvement to the carbon footprint.
The power produced is a mere 60 megawatts, sufficient to power a town of say 40,000 homes. The digestate, a form of compost, can be used as an enriched fertiliser but the problem is where! It can’t be sold to the public as it doesn’t conform to industry standards. They are hoping to sponsor experiments to use it to fertilise golf courses, sports pitches, farmers’ fields, in landscaping and regeneration schemes, to build up the public’s confidence and acceptance in recycled food waste.
Whilst on the subject of ‘recycling’ it would help matters if there was less recyclable material produced in the first place. For example, look at all the packaging that comes with the purchase of some food items. I wonder how quickly supermarkets would react and put pressure on producers to change their ways if housewives (and male shoppers) started baring all at the checkouts by leaving excess packaging and wrappings behind.
Mmm, food for thought!