More recycling? Let’s have some answers first

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From Keith Shaw.

THE St Helier parish assembly on 25 November was well attended, possibly prompted by reported claims that there was only a 19% take up rate for the Havre des Pas trial recycling scheme.

For many, it was their first chance to explain how recycling concerned them and how it would not work in their back yards, hallways or landings. Care workers, landlords and refuse collectors supported these comments.

No one spoke in support of the trial recycling scheme as a model for the rest of St Helier, yet many, including the Constable, spoke in favour of a more efficient, centralised Island-wide system, as seen in operation in the UK.

That plant didn’t need kerbside sorting or specialist collection vehicles, being simpler and cheaper to operate, saving ratepayers’ money being spent on new plant, vehicles, storage sheds and staff, etc. It is also a safer, cleaner and efficient way to deal with the mixed loads from Euro bins.

Ratepayers raised serious concerns about the parish going it alone, which included building specialist sheds and buying its own plant and equipment. Would the potential income ever cover the actual costs?

The meeting recorded several notable outcomes, confirmed by the Constable:

• Consultation on recycling will start immediately.

• No one will be forced to recycle at their doorstep, nor be penalised in any way for failing to do so.

• Refuse staff will not be forced to take part in recycling processes.

• Food waste will not be composted.

The French buyer for our paper and cardboard was mentioned again, as well as ships and containers leaving the Island empty, which could carry our recycled goods for free.

As we haven’t seen any euros or pounds yet, or any of these money-making schemes materialise, are these dreams ever going to happen?

We must be realistic. In five to ten years time, will we have similar volumes of newspapers, cardboard or glass containers? These potential markets could disappear faster than tourists.

The greatest Island impact will inevitably come from reducing the use of items and changing how we do things. The assembly was reminded how local shops reduced plastic bag use from 15 million to 500,000 a year.

Existing methods and procedures need examining for efficiency and environmental savings. For example:

• Why are we stockpiling thousands of old TV sets? If they have valuable parts, sell them.

• Why are we told to wash glass bottles and food containers with expensive drinking

water, before crushing them? There is surplus water at Bellozanne.

• What is the real cost of producing compost at La Collette?

• What’s the real cost per Mw of electricity from the Bellozanne Plant?

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