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6 July, 2006

Recycling police

It's slightly regrettable that it's considered necessary, but I applaud the decision of the local council in Barnet, London, to make domestic recycling compulsory.

As the Guardian reports, a 'recycling assistant' accompanies the door-to-door collection team, observing the contents (or lack of them) of recycling bins and contacting residents, initially to persuade, though persistent failure to recycle could lead to a £1,000 fine. That's under section 46 of the Environmental Protection Act, 1990 – I hadn't realised that enforceable legislation on recycling of waste had existed for so long.

Big brother? Nanny state? I don't think so. I believe this remains within the reasonable range of state intervention for collective benefit, without unduly restricting individual rights.


It does seem a bit draconian, but probably worth it in the long term. York got a new 'recycling centre' to replace the household waste tip, and although you can still dump general waste for landfill there, council workers regularly check what's being dumped and remove anything that can be recycled. Even though there are plenty of recycling facilities on site, I'd reckon about a third of what is dumped in the landfill skips is removed for recycling.

Through an expansion of its recycling services, York council saved nearly half a million pounds last year in landfill tax across the city. So it makes more than just environmental sense - it saves taxpayer's money too.

Posted by Neil T. at July 6, 2006 06:10 PM
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