Refuse and Recyling

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Brighton and Hove, where I live, has weekly refuse collections from green wheelie bins and fortnightly recycling collections from black boxes. The recyclables, which the Council will collect from the kerbside, are mainly limited to paper, cardboard and glass. Many residents do not depend exclusively on these Council collections, but also pay for an independant Recycling Cooperative to collect weekly.

The Cooperative collects a wider range of materials, including most types of plastic, textiles, tetra packs / juice cartons, and aluminium tin foil. They also recycle everything they collect as locally as possible without shipping any materials abroad.

Our local Council does not offer separate food waste collections, so anything which residents fail to compost themselves is included in refuse or black bag waste. This is taken first to a Waste Transfer Station, which is poorly located near several residential areas. The food waste makes it very smelly, so during hot weather residents are continually phoning the Environment Agency - the licensing body - to complain about nuisance from odour.

The Waste Transfer Station consolidates the waste brought in by a large fleet of refuse vehicles. The waste is then transported in a smaller number of larger vehicles to a giant incinerator in a town further eastwards along the Sussex coast.

The incinerator has also been the subject of many complaints, especially by villagers worried about air pollution. It was built when the law changed so that it was no longer possible to send refuse to landfill. Now the black bag waste is burnt instead. There is pressure on our local Council to offer separate food waste collections, since burning food waste is considered as poor environmental practice.

Many other local authorities offer separate collections of food waste which can be used to produce compost, nitrogen rich fertiliser, or biogas. The latter is a renewable source of energy, which can be burned directly to produce heat or converted into electricity.

-----© Ted Power