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20 April, 2008

Random queries no. 137

One of a series of genuine search engine enquiries which successfully brought visitors to the Ministry.  Can I help?

is recycling law and what about invasion of privacy searching thriugh my rubbish

is it good for the environment if i have to drive

It's not compulsory to participate in recycling schemes in the UK, though that's at the time of writing and I would support some compulsion.
In theory, it's already arrived in my part of Lancaster, as the Council will only accept a fixed amount of for-landfill waste from each household per fortnight, which is less than the total amount of waste a typical household might produce: households which recycle nothing won't have all their waste removed, which could rapidly lead to legal action.
I'd welcome the 'weighed bins' recently mentioned in the mass-media, as a financial incentive to reduce unrecycled waste could help.

Invasion of privacy
I have little sympathy with this objection. It's your responsibility to dispose of personally-identifiable materials properly – if you simply drop intact bank statements in your bin/recycling, more fool you. That's not an excuse to avoid recycling altogether, merely a requirement to think first.
If I receive, say, a letter from my bank, I rip off the header, containing account and other reference numbers plus names and addresses, and similarly remove the footer containing unexplained serial numbers which could be of some significance. I then rip up and drop the innocuous body of the letter into my recycling. The header and footer also get ripped into tiny pieces, then roughly a third goes in the recycling, a third goes in my main bin amongst the food waste, and a third goes in my 'confidential paper' recycling bin, which I only empty every few months.

Self-evidently, it's not optimal* to take recycling to a collection point by car. I can only suggest using whatever doorstep collection schemes are available in your area then storing as much of whatever's left as you can bear, then disposing of it infrequently, preferably when you're making a trip in that general direction anyway.
By definition, Council tips tend to be in out-of-the-way locations, so one can't necessarily pop to the tip on the way to work, but many classes of recycling not accepted by doorstep collection schemes are accepted at communal sites such as bottle banks in supermarket car parks – it is entirely possible to make combined recycling & shopping trips; if one was going to the supermarket anyway, there's no added consequence of dropping off the recycling.

In short: do what you can. Don't get obsessed with recycling everything, but equally, don't use minor problems as an excuse to do nothing. If it's especially inconvenient to recycle plastic bottles in your area, okay, send 'em to landfill, but still recycle paper, cans & bottles.

*: let's avoid phrases like 'good for the environment': the childish & moralistic language of enviro-hippies makes my fists itch....

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