Remember when the concept of ‘recycling’ was limited to cans, glass and paper?
In a short time, we’ve advanced far from checking our empty drink can with a magnet to confirm if it qualifies for the Blue Peter appeal.
Don't be blue, Peter
The variety of recyclable articles now is staggering. And it needs to be for targets set out in Scotland’s Zero Waste Plan to be achievable. Launched last week by Scottish Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead, the plan sets a target of 70% recycling and composting for all waste by 2025. Yes, that is all waste, whether generated by businesses or households.
This year’s theme for Recycle Week (21st-27th June) reflects our need and ability to continue expanding the diverse range of items we recycle.
The year’s focus is ‘Love your electricals – set them free’, focussing on recycling old, broken or unwanted small electricals and giving them the chance to be useful again.
The UK currently produces around 1 million tonnes of waste electronic and electrical equipment each year – a figure forecast to double over the next 15 years. This makes it one of the fastest growing waste streams – increasing at a rate three times that of average municipal waste growth.
It seems a very apt theme, given Richard Lochhead’s comments last week that; “a top priority for any waste policy must be a reduction in the amount of valuable resources that are sent to landfill.” And that: “Separating waste at the earliest possible stage will help recover the maximum value from different materials.”
I don’t suppose there are many more valuable materials being sent to landfill than our once state-of-the-art televisions or Betamax VCRs (okay, maybe not the Betamaxes).
What I find even more astonishing, given the figures above, is a theory that many of us are hoarding our old electrical equipment. We’re not recycling them or putting them in our household waste because of the emotional attachment we’ve formed with them over the years.
It’s easy to see how the bond forms. Perhaps one wakes you from the bed that was warmed the previous night by another. Maybe one cleans your teeth before you shower or removes the 5 o’clock shadow from your chin. Another might dry, straighten or curl and style your hair, while you catch up on the headlines on another. You may not fully wake until one heats the water that brews your first cup of the day, with which you add a dash of milk kept cool in another and butter a slice of steaming toast that just popped from one. You may reach for a fully charged one from a dock and check your messages before glancing at a ticking one on your wrist, realising unsurprisingly that you’re late, again. Perhaps, you listen to your favourite playlist on one as you cycle to the office to sit in front of one, tapping away for the rest of the day…
"Pay attention, 007!"
Keeping an appliance in a drawer might seem like a more environmentally friendly option than sending it to landfill but there is more to consider. Many of these much-loved devices could be put to good use by someone else, or be broken down into components: recycling the valuable materials to help preserve natural resources.
Perhaps for Recycle Week 2010 you might set free an article that, once upon a time, made life a little easier for you.
There are now lots more places who will reuse and recycle our old electrical items throughout Scotland.
Find them at www.sort-it.org.uk.