Recycling is a habit that has become ingrained in my way of life. I have separate bins in the kitchen for compostable waste and landfill waste as well as the glass, tin, plastic and paper recycling bins outside my back door - all of which are collected kerbside by Shropshire Council. If my three year old sees that someone has dropped litter on our walk to school, she doesn't say that the perpetrator should have put it in the bin, rather that they should have have put it in the recycling. I like it this way. It feels right.
It was with great disappointment that I found out that, as from later this month, our Council will no longer accept cardboard waste for recycling.
Cardboard waste from packaging makes up a significant proportion of our family's rubbish. Up until now, I have happily flattened it and put it in the green bin in the knowledge that it would be transformed into useful compost. Now, unless I can find an alternative way of recycling it (which would almost certainly mean finding somewhere to store it until I had enough to justify driving out to a recycling centre with the inevitable cost to me and the environment in terms of fuel consumption) all I can do is consign it to the landfill sites.
The reason for Shropshire Council taking what seems such a backward step is that UK composting regulations now demand that compost meets the 'PAS 100:2011' standard. The inks, dyes and coatings used on cardboard packaging might potentially contaminate the compost so the standard would not be met. I am definitely all for ensuring compost is of a recognisable quality but surely if the inks, dyes and coatings on cardboard are in danger of contaminating the compost, we ought to be addressing the issue of what inks, dyes and coatings are actually used. I cannot believe that there are no green alternatives that would mean cardboard's position as a composting ingredient can be reinstated.
If the printing on my cardboard packaging was a little less vivid and the feel of it a little less glossy - would I really care? Manufacturers concerned that a more natural look would be less likely to attract consumers should be braver and lead the way. Consumers can be educated - habits can be changed.
As a separate issue to my objections, I am really going to struggle with the once a fortnight collection schedule now that the cardboard waste generated by my family has to be added to the black bin (destination landfill). I have visions of drowning in non-recyclable rubbish with their glorious dyes, inks and coatings. Seriously, what am I going to do with all this!
Shropshire Council have promised that they are ... "working at finding new practical and cost effective ways of collecting your cardboard in the future".
For all our sakes, please, HURRY UP!