Published On: Thu, Jul 14th, 2011

We need to re-think our haste with waste

WHAT do we all hate to see and yet can’t stop creating more of? Not teenage boys with their

jeans below their butt cheeks. I’m talking about waste!

Whether it’s roadside litter, packaging, dumped plastic bottles or the mountains of rejected goods accumulating at our tip, however you define it, what sticks in the gullet is the unnecessary, unsightly and the destructive – waste, that is.

Recycling was going to be the answer, but as home science theory one shows us, waste expands to overfill the bin provided for it.

We’ve done a pretty good job in Bathurst now with the recycling bins getting plastic, metal and paper out of the landfill so that our tip will last a little longer. And yet our waste is still growing at seven per cent a year.

We’re still blithely buying yet another plastic bottle for a couple of sips of liquid and dragging a car full of plastic home from every shopping expedition.

Packaging is out of control and nothing lasts for long. Everything is designed not to be opened, let alone fixed – so bin that one and go back for a new one.

The Germans got on to this problem pretty early and they actually made the people who make your new gadget or pack of nails responsible for disposing of the packaging they put it in.

So people started unpacking their goodies in the shop and leaving the waste right there. Manufacturers soon started reducing all that needless packaging.

And is it just the branding talking or do Germans also manufacture higher quality products built to last rather than go immediately into the waste stream?

The Germans have been pretty sharp on the polluter pays concept, too, since they tackled acid rain in the 80s.

With Germanic pragmatism they simply mandated clean air emissions and fined people who kept sending up the offending chemical cocktails.

Result: the smoke stacks had air filters installed – Germany had no more acid rain. Producers accepted responsibility.

There are some positive steps in the wonderful world of waste closer to home.

Our first producer responsibility scheme comes in this year to head off the dumping of analogue televisions as the new digital platform rolls out.

This means the people who get to sell us all those new electronic devices also get to pay for collecting and recycling the old ones – a step in the right direction to deal with the ever mounting problem of e waste taking over garages and landfills.

Our local charities are also world class at breathing new life into preloved goodies. The team at the Junktion even restores and recycles electronics and building materials, generating some serious bargains.


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