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Bonkers Blog October 2014

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24 October (Part 2) - The Places meeting. Boo! Bexley council plans to charge more for a lower cost service

The final item from Wednesday’s scrutiny meeting which should be of widespread interest is the Waste Management Strategy for 2015-2020, it’s something that affects every household. Most people would agree that the present system, developed while councillor Gareth Bacon was running the show, has served residents well but there are ideas around to change it.

It’s amazing how services vary from one borough to another. I know that friends in Bromley are asked to pay £60 a year (but they don’t) to have their garden waste removed and across the river Newham allows paper, plastic and metal to all go in one bin but won’t take glass jars at all. They expect my 94 year old aunt to carry them half a mile to the nearest roadside collecting point so I’m afraid they end up in Bexley.

Recycling opportunities are increasing with better technology and along with changing costs and taxation it is obvious that things must be reassessed from time to time. Mr. Frizoni provided the review update.

Bexley has looked at radical proposals like separating paper from card and tins from plastic because as a general rule separating materials at source increases its value. The downside is that the number of bins and boxes becomes unmanageable so such a scheme is unlikely to be adopted.

Not being able to dump the occasional bit of sheet glass along with the bottles and jam jars is a nuisance and it is possible this could change dependent on costs and trials by the contractor.

It has always been a puzzle to know what sort of plastic is suitable for recycling and as my chemistry qualifications stopped at A level in 1961 I tend to regard all plastic as being the same but apparently the hard stuff isn’t and should go in the green (rubbish) bin. It is now possible to recycle plastic film so it may be possible to put it in the plastics box before long.

Processing mixed garden and food waste costs £53.33 a tonne but pure garden waste is only £30, the saving would be £444,000 a year if residents could be persuaded to separate the food from the grass cuttings. A substantial cost saving. It does not seem unreasonable to put residents to a small amount of inconvenience to save that sort of money but the big question is why Bexley plans to do that and additionally levy a hefty charge on the residents who cooperate with their money saving scheme? The council is hoping that 30% of households will be paying for garden waste collection by 2016.

Mr. Frizoni appeared to be talking good sense overall although he did allow himself to talk crap for a moment or two. 10%, some 10,000 tons a year, of Bexley’s waste is babies’ nappies. The report confirmed that Bexley is no longer London’s No. 1 recycler.

Recycling has been a priority ever since the European Union first stuck its nose into the subject, it must have been at least ten years ago, and I was very much against it at the time but now I am a bit of a fusspot with the recycling. Only this morning I ‘told off’ a visitor who threw her supermarket till receipt into my general rubbish bin and I am still seriously miffed about Bexley council removing all their Electrical Appliance recycling bins from my end of the borough.

The EU is probably not always wrong, vacuum cleaners over 1,600 watts may be an example. My father spent several years of his life developing the fans in Concorde’s engine and he once saw me with a vacuum cleaner in bits which I was attempting to mend. It boasted a 1,000 watt motor, pretty big thirty years ago but not now. Dad knew a thing or two about fans and he said that a 1,000 watt motor spinning a vacuum cleaner sized fan was a total waste of electricity. It could never absorb all that power.

That is a rather convoluted introduction to the next point. When Mr. Frizoni referred to the European Union early on in his report it apparently irritated the UKIP representative on the Committee. Councillor Lynn Smith responded with this…

Despite the vacuum cleaner anecdote I am no enthusiast for the European Union myself, far from it, but surely there is a time and place for everything? Perhaps Blackfen and Lamorbey voters should have put their cross against Mr. Barnbrook’s name instead.


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