Penny Wise, Pound Foolish

It’s fair to say that we are living in difficult times economically speaking – I don’t think anyone would argue with that. Everybody is trying their best to cut costs, and our local councils are no exception – they are under enormous pressure to save every penny they can. It’s no surprise that if a council sees an opportunity to cut costs, they will take it. However, a new process that has recently been put in place by Flintshire County Council (my local council) seems to me to be in defiance of common sense. There have been articles recently in the local press complaining that 40% of domestic waste removed from the kerbside contains food waste, which is supposed to be collected separately and sent to an organic digestion plant where it can be safely destroyed. If food waste gets into landfill, if can generate methane gas, which is one of the greenhouse gases and is harmful to the environment.

Potato Skins, Waste, Shells, Potato Dish

The original process

When the food waste collection process was set up some years ago, every household was issued with a caddy, a roll of disposable biobags and a sturdy outdoor food waste container. The idea was that the caddy was lined with a bio-degradable biobag and kept in the kitchen. Once the biobag was full of solid food waste, the top was tied and it was put into the outdoor food waste container, which was emptied every week during the regular bin collection. The roll of biobags had a little slip close to the end of the roll, and once you reached this slip, you attached it to the food waste container, and the collection crew would drop off a roll of bags along with the empty container – simple process, and you never ran out of bags.

The new ‘improved’ process

Someone must have decided that dropping off a roll of bags was somehow adding time and cost to the collection crew’s duties, because the last roll of bags I received did not have the slip inside. It now seems that if I want a new roll of biobags, I need to go onto the council website, fill in a form, and order a new roll (you can’t buy your own at the supermarket – the council will only collect food waste in their official biobags). I have just put in my request, and received an email to tell me that someone will get back to me (after processing my request) with a reference number for me to take to my local recycling centre, where presumably a member of staff will ask me to fill in another form (that’s how it works with other recycling items), and then hand me a roll of bags.

Responsible recycling

The process for me to continue to be a responsible citizen and recycle my food waste is now as follows: I fill in a form online, a person processes the request and sends me an email, I travel to the tip site (6 miles away) and someone else gives me a form to sign and then hands me a roll of biobags. How can that possibly be more cost-effective than me indicating I need more bags and someone (who has to come to my door to collect my food waste anyway) dropping off a roll of biobags when I request one? No wonder people are chucking their food waste into the landfill bin!

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