Recycling lessons from the scrap-yard

Posted on April 28th, 2014 by Rob Marshall

scrapWhile I am a keen follower of the mantra, reduce, reuse and recycle, strictly in that order, the best intentions to be environmentally-conscious tend to be manipulated by some local authorities. First, you are required to wash and dry all recyclable garbage and, in many cases, follow this up, by sorting out metal, plastics (often only of certain types), cardboard, paper and garden waste into separate bins. Through the Council Tax bill, the house occupant then pays for the now clean and sorted non-landfill waste to be collected and recovered.

I think that the whole system needs to take a few lessons from the motor car dismantling profession. If you want to recycle your unwanted vehicle, you are required to neither wash it nor reduce the car to its basic components, prior to sorting out all of the parts, by their material type, and laying them out neatly outside your front door. Instead, you can have the ‘scrapper’ collected from your home and, get this, you tend to get paid for your ‘waste.’ Naturally, the rate of payola depends on the type of car and scrap metal’s market rate but many years have passed, since a worn-out vehicle was considered as worthless junk. It is then left to the dismantler to de-pollute (unlike household rubbish, a car is classified as hazardous waste), and shred the vehicle as one, prior to separating out the materials, while still making a profit, even after paying out the former keeper and dealing with the relevant paperwork.

Clearly, one person’s trash is another’s treasure and household waste also has value, which is increased hugely, by the public having to clean and categorise it all. The fact that we have to pay to have it taken away afterwards, highlights that somebody must be making big profits from our, possibly deluded, feeling that we are acting in the best interests of our planet.