Burn less and recycle more

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From Patrick Cooper.

IT appears that we are still lagging way behind in the recycling scheme of things here in Jersey.

Question: Do you stop and think about the sort of things you throw out as rubbish on a weekly basis? If the answer to that question is yes, how much of that rubbish do you actively recycle?

My guess is not a great deal, because we are simply not able to do so in our beautiful island. Why can’t we recycle more? That is the very question I asked the head of recycling, John Rive.

The answer is one of cost. It is simply too expensive to recycle a number of basic household items, so they get burnt in the ageing and overworked incinerator.

Now this is where the conflict between environmental conscience and political willpower/public spend-ing begins. However, I would argue that if our politicians are prepared to sanction £106 million for a new incinerator (which with the associated infrastructure and dumping or burying of waste ash will effectively cost in the region of £200 million), then why not build a smaller, cheaper, greener incinerator and use the rest of the already allocated money to offset the cost of proper physical recycling efforts we can be proud of as being ‘green’?

For example, let’s take the humble milk carton. It is quite possible to recycle our cartons if we collect them up, pack them in bales or crates and, when we have a boatload, ship them off to a suitable European port to be processed.

Yes, we would have to store and package enough empty cartons to make a boatload more financially viable, but I bet it wouldn’t take long. I wonder how many crates of new cartons arrive by boat in Jersey each week/month/year?

Then, of course, there is the whole question of plastics. An environmental nightmare for some, but in reality modern recycling methods mean that a whole range of plastics of varying grades can be recycled these days. Currently, in Jersey, we only recycle clear, clean, plastic bottles without lids on, but we could collect all plastics, sort them into grades, load them on to a boat and ship them off to be processed rather than burning them.

Okay, you could read this and think, why bother — we are currently in the midst of a financial recession and we rely heavily on banking and finance to survive. Why should we start throwing money away on recycling?

Well, consider this. In justifying the offset costs of recycling, from a ‘green’ perspective, we must talk in terms that financiers understand. In other words we have to talk in terms of money. Or, put more precisely, balancing the books as well as addressing the balance of nature. To do this we have to start to think further ‘out of the box’.

By recycling more and burning less, we can promote the Island’s ‘green’ credentials to prospective financial clients (the potential for investing in a carbon offsetting programme) as well as eco-tourists — thus making Jerey ‘greener’ for all those who live here, while bringing in the green stuff (euros, dollars, sterling etc).

This, in turn, would help us to offset paying for the ‘greener’ initiative in the first place.


Rue Gombrette,

St John.

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