THE council’s quarterly newsletter has appeared through the letterbox and there’s bad news. Having fought my way through the usual reports about dog fouling and roadworks, I come across the worrying fact that the recycling rate in the Scottish Borders has remained the same as last year’s.
We are stagnating. Contrast this with the meteoric rise from eight per cent of waste recycled in 2004-5 to 40 per cent in 2010-11. Maybe it’s like dieting, where you reach a plateau. As a means of spurring us on, the council has produced further advice on what can be recycled, and it’s an eye-opener.
I’ll preface this paragraph by saying that every council in Scotland seems to have a different recycling policy so don’t assume you can recycle any of the items I’m about to mention without checking first. Heaven forbid that I be the cause of an angry letter delivered to you by your council’s waste department. Anyway, plastic is the substance that’s giving cause for optimism. I thought you could only recycle things stamped PET or HDPE. I was wrong – you can now recycle PVC, LDPE and PP too. I know what you’re thinking. I should be avoiding plastics in the first place. I am trying. Which plastic items can I unexpectedly recycle? Margarine tubs, clingfilm, freezer bags, bubble wrap, magazine wrappers and upright plastic pump toothpaste dispensers. That last one seems the most far-fetched but I’m pleased to see it.
The council paper also has some nice news about how recycled plastic is being used – as the building material for a bridge over the River Tweed, for example. Did you know that bottle tops can be recycled? Or that it takes a quarter of the energy to make a plastic bottle from recycled materials as compared to new materials? I feel enlightened, if a little disappointed to learn that I can’t recycle audio cassettes (I have three boxes currently seeking asylum), plant pots (an EU mountain of these is building in my back garden) or toothpaste tubes. I included that last one to show what a fine line there is between what you can recycle and what you can’t. Toothpaste pump good, toothpaste tube bad.
So how is the rest of Scotland faring with its recycling efforts? In terms of targets, 50 per cent is the aim for next year, rising to 70 per cent by 2025. As it stands, Sepa figures show that in the period October to December 2011, recycling rates were at 36.7 per cent (211,417 tonnes of waste), with a ‘rolling year’ rate of 40.7 per cent. The star performers were the good people of Fife, achieving 51.2 per cent, while the Shetland Islands were languishing at the other end of the scale with 14.5 per cent.
Back on the home front, the best thing I’ve done to increase my own recycling rate is to introduce an upstairs recycling bin. There’s already one in the kitchen but my upstairs bins were previously getting everything chucked into them with a half-hearted effort to sort out the contents come waste collection day.
Meanwhile, I’m trying not to dwell on the urban myth that most of our recycling actually ends up in landfill as there’s no market for the materials – I’m sure some government body must be regulating this sort of thing. Recycle Now (www.recyclenow.com) reassures me, saying 95 per cent of recycling is genuinely recycled – the other five per cent is too dirty or the wrong stuff (toothpaste tubes, no doubt). Anyway, Fife had better look out because, with all this new info to hand, I’m aiming to get my region to the top of the table.
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Weather for Edinburgh
Saturday 25 May 2013
Temperature: 6 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 13 mph
Wind direction: West
Temperature: 9 C to 16 C
Wind Speed: 14 mph
Wind direction: South west