Month: February 2020

The end of the world: policy & procedure

I don’t care about the planet or my children’s future. Not my words. Stay with me. An empty tin of dog food was found in the bin (now called the general waste bin). Apparently it should not have been there. It ought to have been rinsed, washed and dried and THEN placed in the recycling bin. I know, I’m a very bad person. I’ll get over it. My family, however now cast suspicious glances at me whenever I am in the kitchen. Big Brother has nothing on them. They think their observations are discreet, but I know they’re watching. It’s a dystopian nightmare.

I’m not against recycling. Let’s get that clear. But, the rules that are emerging around this enterprise are doing my head in. I can only speak for my municipal district, The Shire of Wanneroo, WA. I used to feel good about throwing an empty water bottle into the recycling bin. My enthusiasm was premature. One does not deposit the entire bottle in the bin (recycling bin, not the other one). No. There is a procedure:

1. Remove lid and place in general waste. I don’t get this, it’s plastic! But, there you go? Perhaps recycling plants have had complaints from employees about the strain that undoing lids causes them. Maybe, heaven forbid, nails have been chipped. Possibly they roll onto the floor and present OHS tripping hazards? I don’t know. I no longer care and my family are tired of my ranting, so I grudgingly comply.

2. The plastic ring that is attached to the lid, the polymer noose around the neck of the bottle must be cut, removed and like the lid, be placed in general waste. These worm like bits of plastic are likely to be mistaken for a snack by aquatic creatures. But, there you have it. Not to be recycled.

3. The bottle may now be placed in the recycling bin. No! Are you mad?

4. Remove the plastic label and place in general waste, it’s soft plastic and soft plastic cannot be recycled. Really? Yes, really. Other soft plastics suffer the same fate. I’ve since learned that whilst plastic bottles crush easily they are not soft. Soft plastics include any plastic bag or wrapper, the kind we sea floating in the sea or garroting unfortunate seagulls. General waste only.

Kevin Mcleod (of Grand Designs fame) appeared in an excellent documentary film called Slumming It in 2010. He spent a week in the Mumbai slum of Dharavi and during this time visited a recycling plant where over 90% of all plastics, and other stuff, are recycled. I’m just saying …

It would appear to me that we are not yet where counties like India are. Recycling offers employment possibilities and maybe, if the authorities took it as seriously as re-elections, they would make the process easier and not harder for us. I know of someone living in another Perth suburb where general waste is no longer collected, only recycled waste. What?

In the words of Yoda, do or do not do, there is no try. If we’re going to recycle let’s recycle. If I sound like a grumpy old fart, sue me. I have spent hours that add up to days that become weeks and over a period of 35 years may have accumulated to at least a few years, patiently adhering to the absurdity of bureaucracy. Don’t be afraid of climate change, rather fear the behemoth of bureaucracy that threatens to bury us with policies and procedures. Right now, I have an empty tin of dog food to process for recycling.