It's hard not to be cynical about recycling rubbish in this country. Do we truly believe that when we chuck stuff in "recycling" bins that it goes into a plant and it's morphed into something else?
From personal experience that's doubtful. Running into a waste truck driver in my apartment's rubbish room, dutifully clutching my bag of recyclables, he told me: "Forget the bins mate, chuck them in the skip, they all go into the same hole anyway."
All the effort that had been expended over the years, cleaning the plastic and envisioning it returning into the container chain to be used time and time again, went out the gaping garbage room door. It needed further investigation, a go-pro was installed in the rubbish room which caught the truck eating the rubbish along with the recyclables. Tailing it to the landfill, confirmed what the truckie's claim.
It sort of debunks the call from out new Environment Commissioner Simon Upton who's been waxing on about how we should know the difference between biodegradable and compostable plastics, if we did we'd know where to put them, he contends. Biodegradables in our oceans can last for decades, he says. There needs to be a bigger role for the Government to play and Upton's pleased the Green Minister Eugene Sage sees it providing much needed guidance and regulation.
Tell that to those who're trying to manage the growing piles of plastic around the country. Thousands of tonnes are being added to daily to the mountains of muck following China's decision to stop being the world's recyclable rubbish dump a few months back. The People's Republic had historically taken half of the world's recyclables but the stuff coming from this country, and others, was dirty so they closed the door and understandably became more picky.
Where there's muck there's brass is no longer the case, at least in this country. Christchurch for example is bailing out of its recycling company as the revenue from the rubbish no longer meets the operating costs and that's true in a number of areas with transfer stations looking more like the rubbish dumps of India. The only difference is, there's nothing to scavenge.
We're now looking for other countries to receive the rubble, like the Philippines and Indonesia.
Surely we should be looking at the likes of Sweden where they've got on top of their waste problem, genuinely recycling what they can, but burning the rest of it in plants that convert it into energy which goes into a nationwide heating network for homes.
Less than one percent of their household rubbish ends up in landfills, and yes, they're importing plenty of rubbish to burn. So in their case, muck is certainly converted into brass.