It has been 21 years since the government published a natural environment white paper, and the one published last week does not appear to be closing the gap between lofty aspirations and reality. Though the white paper does attempt to address the issues of environmental conservation and the ongoing loss of biodiversity in the U.K., it has too little to offer in terms of specifics regarding either a suggested or mandated approach to the problems.
In the case of the national waste review published last Tuesday, no real resolution has been accomplished and the arguments are still going on. Community Secretary Eric Pickles has been championing the once-a-week rubbish pick up agenda for a long time. He has said that citizens are paying enough for trash disposal that they deserve more frequent and effective rubbish and recycling collection; in other words, more for their money.
On the other side of that argument are a number of reports and studies as well as the input of the largest recycling companies in the country. All of the top ten companies work on a fortnightly basis, and company officials have said that more frequent collections would probably hamper efforts to increase the overall recycle rate. They also take into account the unfortunate fact that if the trash gets picked up more often, most people will feel free to put more of it out for pick up.
The idea is that the issue should be decided (and paid for) by local councils, but most of those local councils are saying the government will have to pay. That puts things in a different light, and the initial result is that no genuine changes or improvements are being instigated.
The ideal, for both environmentalists and economists, is “zero waste” across the U.K. To this end, it would seem that time and money would be better spent on improving the effectiveness of the recycling process to make more and better use of the products that can be recycled, and reducing the use of natural resources that can never be replaced. The planet wide environmental crisis is a great deal larger than the question of how often the trash is collected.