Do we bin it or is there an al­ter­na­tive?

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - News -

Any­one in­volved in, who ob­served closely or re­ported on the re­cy­cling rev­o­lu­tion of the 1980s would have noted that so­ci­ety needed to jump large hur­dles for the con­cept to be­come a re­al­ity.

For those of us who re­mem­ber, there were all sorts of bar­ri­ers, none more press­ing than a fledg­ling in­dus­try strug­gling to gen­er­ate de­mand for prod­ucts made from var­i­ous types of re­cy­cled ma­te­rial.

What was also im­me­di­ately ev­i­dent was that there was a need for every­day house­hold­ers, who were jump­ing on board to sup­port kerb­side re­cy­cling – to such an ex­tent they were will­ing to pay for the priv­i­lege – to sep­a­rate their waste. This was be­cause there were some items that could be read­ily sep­a­rated and re­cy­cled and oth­ers that could not. Un­for­tu­nately the items that could not were des­tined for land­fill – a prob­lem to con­sider for the fu­ture.

Re­cy­cling is now thank­fully a huge part of waste-man­age­ment, pro­vid­ing busi­ness, trade and em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties as well as help­ing us avoid liv­ing in a glo­ri­fied rub­bish tip.

But what about that prob­lem waste ma­te­rial that needed some sort of so­lu­tion in the fu­ture?

Again, thank­fully, we’ve seen in­dus­try re­sponse and sig­nif­i­cant de­vel­op­ment in­volv­ing an in­creas­ing range of prod­ucts.

So why then, are we con­stantly hear­ing of the hor­rors of petro-chem­i­cal plas­tic con­tam­i­na­tion of our rivers and oceans and of a seem­ingly large num­ber peo­ple con­fused about what they can or can’t re­cy­cle?

It is be­cause as con­sumers we not only con­tinue to al­low, but foster, some­times through a com­fort­able ig­no­rance, a throw­away life­style re­gard­less of the en­vi­ron­men­tal cost.

Sure, we give our­selves a pat on the back for re­cy­cling an egg car­ton or plas­tic bot­tle. But at the same time we ca­su­ally put in the bin the plas­tic wrap­per from our in­di­vid­u­ally con­tained slice of cheese, cling-wrap that kept our ve­g­ies or meat fresh, choco­late wrap­pers and so on.

Who can blame us? There al­ter­na­tive.

Or is there? We put govern­ments in power to help us man­age big-pic­ture is­sues and sus­pect waste-man­age­ment has reached a point where they have to step in to reg­u­late what can be dis­trib­uted as one-use throw­away prod­ucts.

Some might ar­gue this is un­re­al­is­tic, fi­nan­cially and so­cially, con­sid­er­ing our heavy day-to-day re­liance on petro-chem­i­cal plas­tics?

But as the say­ing goes, where there’s is no a will, there’s a way. For ex­am­ple and we’ve said it many times be­fore – tech­nol­ogy to cre­ate starch-based com­postable plas­tic has been around for years.

It is inexplicab­le con­sid­er­ing how much starch we grow in this coun­try that we have yet to se­ri­ously ex­plore the po­ten­tial of bio­plas­tic.

Imag­ine feel­ing com­fort­able about putting a plas­tic bag on your worm patch or in your com­post bin for use in the gar­den.

We’ve seen so much growth in how we man­age our waste but there are many boxes we have still yet to tick.

It re­mains an is­sue that is go­ing to stay with us un­til we find the an­swers

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