But We Don’t Want To Recycle Packaging, We Want To Manage The Waste Instead


The latest bright plan form the government is going to embed into the system the utmost looniness – the idea that all packaging should be recycled. Recycling often costs more than other methods of dealing with waste products. Thus to insist upon recycling is to make us all poorer. This is not the point, not the aim, of our having an economy but the loons are going to do it anyway. And worse than this they’re going to insist that the people paying for this have no influence over how it is done. We’re going to end up in the worst of Milton Friedman’s four ways to spend money, other peoples’ on other people.

This is what they’re planning:

Retailers and producers of packaging will be forced to pay the full cost of collecting and recycling it under the government’s new waste strategy. Supermarkets and other retailers could be charged penalties for putting difficult to recycle packaging – such as black plastic trays – on the market as part of the strategy, which aims to make the “polluter pay”. They would be charged lower fees for packaging that was easy to reuse or recycle. As the Guardian revealed last month, costs to retailers and producers will soar under the plans, to between £500m and £1bn annually. It will see the producers of the waste cover the full costs of recycling and collecting it. Currently the taxpayer, through local authorities, funds 90% of the costs of recycling and businesses just 10%. The scheme could also see retailers and producers pay for the cost of clearing up the litter created by their waste and for the enforcement of the scheme.

We consumers can’t make our desires known here, by selecting produce wrapped in that lovely plastic or not as the fancy takes us. But we’ll obviously end up paying the costs – costs imposed upon all producers do trickle through to consumers. The producers don’t get to influence what is recycled, what is landfilled, what is burnt either, despite their handing over the actual cheque. Nope, what happens here is that the Greens get to decide what is recycled – everything – and that nothing can be disposed of in more efficient manners. And they get to do that while in receipt of an unending flow of money from those who cannot influence them nor refuse to cough up.

The problem with this is that recycling isn’t the right way to deal with all packaging let alone all waste. Landfill works for some to a lot of stuff, incineration for a goodly chunk of the rest. About the only thing that we can unreservedly say definitively has recycling value – in terms of packaging – is aluminium cans. Glass cullet – crushed bottles – often has a negative value, showing that it’s a wealth sink to recycle it. So too often enough general paper waste and these days near always general plastics.

We’re making ourselves poorer by recycling everything. And yet here we are with a plan to insist that the loons get to insist on it with other people picking up the bill. It’s insane.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could actually have a conservative government – or even a liberal one? Instead of just the usual putting the mental into environmentalism.

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