Delivering a Drought

March 12, 2012

It’s not even full spring yet and we’re about to get our water supplies reduced – but not our water bills.

Every time the DeliveryDemon puts something in the waste bin, the drought springs to mind, as do thoughts of how ‘un-joined-up’ this country’s bureaucracy is.

Why? Well, if you live in an administrative area which is committed to the recycling, have you realised that you are using up precious water supplies to WASH the rubbish you pay taxes to have collected?

The DeliveryDemon has nothing against recycling. In fact her household were recycling long before the bureaucrats decided it had to be imposed. Bottles, cardboard, paper, tins, old clothing, garden waste – it all got sorted and composted or taken to bottlebanks or charity shops or recycling centres. No problems and no transport overhead as disposal fitted in with the weekly routine. But now the dead hand of bureaucracy has descended. So:

  • We have slop buckets.
    • They’re too small for the remnants from a day of cooking proper food, or even a single meal, so they are forever needing to be emptied into the bigger slop bucket.
    • They stink because they don’t close tight enough to keep the smell in.
    • They’re made of poor quality plastic which isn’t resistant to the acid remnants of food, so they stink even more.
    • Because they stink they have to be washed out at every emptying, and that takes water. So in just one area, that’s over 30,000 of these slop buckets needing washed out at least once a day.
    • Because the bins are never properly emptied, there’s a residue of rotted food wo go in the next collection, accelerating the decay of new food waste.
  • Then there’s the bigger slop bucket.
    • It’s not really big enough to hold a week of food waste if you use fresh ingredients and lots of fruit and vegetables. But it’s the only bin that gets emptied weekly.
    • Of course it stinks.
    • It gets pretty filthy by the time it’s been chucked at the bin lorry’s automation then thrown back anyhow on the ground, so it needs washed after every emptying.
    • It isn’t really emptied, just waved at a bigger bin, with no account taken of the fact that week old food debris tends to stick to the container, so that’s another load of water cleaning out the 30,000 bins.
  • There’s a massive bin for stuff that doesn’t go into the slop buckets.
    • This is designed to hold about 15 times the amount of rubbish produced by a household that recycles as a matter of course.
    • It’s too light to withstand the boisterous winds in open countryside so local cars and pedestrians are at danger from flying bins.
    • It’s a third bin to be cleaned out, fortnightly for this one.
  • There’s an even more massive bin for paper and cardboard and bottles.
    • That’s another fortnightly collection and another bin that needs washed out.
    • Rubbish needs to be washed before going in the bin, or it stinks and the lids are not proof against odour or flies
    • That’s another flying bin on windy days.
  • There’s another massive bin – at additional cost – for garden waste

Then there’s the disruption and complication.

  • Multiple handling of food waste from one slop bucket to another
  • Complex collection arrangements, needing a section in the local paper to remind people which bins go out when.
  • Up to three days a week when the peace is destroyed by noisy rubbish vehicles, with the constand grinding and beeping audible for streets around for hours at a time
  • Up to three days a week when the roads are blocked by rubbish vehicles whose drivers never pull in to the kerb,  thinking they have no duty of care to other road users

Of course the taxpayer can spend more money on biodegradable bags for all the slop bins. And sit on summer days with the windows closed and earplugs in till the rubbish lorries have gone. That’s what the bureaucrats want us to do. But let’s think about what this is really about.

There’s a need to dispose of rubbish effectively, recycling as much of it as possible. That doesn’t mean it’s necessary to manufacture and distribute 150,000 bins in one small area. There’s no reason why each and every household should turn into a mini waste-sorting and cleaning plant. The council is trumpeting its greenness on the basis of the council doing less, but the full picture is a lot less green.

  • The council is generating noise pollution in previously peaceful rural areas and making it worse in town.
  • The council, at the taxpayer’s expense, is financing the manufacture and use of 4 times as many rubbish vehicles as were previously needed.
  • The council is adding to the overcrowding of roads by blocking them with rubbish vehicles
  • The council is worsening the drought situation by forcing people to use water to clean multiple bins

There’s a very well established principle of economies of scale. Apply it to rubbish collection and you end up with the single collection of waste and central sorting. The rubbish industry is becoming ever more sophisticated, with technology becoming increasingly able to separate different types of waste.

The DeliveryDemon wishes her local council would acquire the intelligence to see the difference between effective recycling, and a bureaucratic ego trip which consumes resources and creates pollution.


Green Statistics Deliver Half the Story?

March 11, 2009

This isn’t about whether the green arguments are correct. It’s a look behind some recent statistics which only deliver half the payload of relevant information.

Statistic 1 – Energy Saving Lightbulbs will Reduce Energy Consumption

Seems pretty incontrovertible on the surface but it just takes a little thought to identify some of the weaknesses in the statement.

  • The lightbulbs give out less light so people will want several bulbs to get adequate light levels. As well as increasing the running energy, there’s an increase in manufacturing energy for more bulbs and multi-bulb fitments.
  • The bulbs don’t fit many existing units so these will be scrapped. Landfill disposal requirement and manufacturing and logistics energy costs for new fitments.
  • There are no arrangements in place for safe disposal of dead bulbs, although they pose a greater risk than traditional bulbs.
  • Light levels reduce with bulb age, creating increased energy demand for replacements.
  • Low light levels at switch-on. Think of increasing numbers of elderly tripping in badly lit passages. And the DeliveryDemon encountered a low energy bulb on a timer in a dark-painted loo. Not conducive to a hygienic environment, and resulting in increased use of cleaning products.
  • Bulbs cannot be dimmed, resulting in a potential increased fire risk as those seeking romantic light levels choose candles.

Statistic 2 – There’s a Reduction in the Number of Plastic Bags

There’s less to challenge here than in the case of lightbulbs, as far as the DeliveryDemon knows 🙂 but there’s still more to the story than meets the eye.

  • Not much publicity has been given to the production volumes and environmental costs of the ‘bags for life’ which retailers are selling us to replace plastic bags.
  • How many shoppers buy bags for life because they forget to bring one of the heap of bags building up in the house or the car?
  • How many shoppers wouldn’t have bought a new bag for life when they already had one, if the supermarkets had big reminder notices in their car parks?
  • How many wouldn’t request plastic bags if they had the opportunity to remember bags for life before they get to the checkout?
  • How many special-purpose bags and containers are being manufactured because there’s no longer a supply of free plastic bags for things like poop-scooping, storing muddy boots and trainers…..

While the headline statistics may have a degree of validity, they only deliver half the story. The above statistics put an overly positive spin on what’s happening. And the DeliveryDemon knows that delivering the sugar without the medicine is more likely to result in an attack of toothache than a cure.