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Rubbish: In the Home

I start with a washing up brush – my mother, a woman for whom frugality was an art form, appeared many years ago to have been swept up with the wild consumerism of the 1990s with the purchase of a new one.  No – most certainly not, my gentle leg pulling revealed that the ‘new’ brush was actually one she had carefully saved when she had cleared out my grandfather’s home after his death a few years before.  At a time of grief, most would be forgiven for throwing out such a small, easily replaced at minimal cost item.  I would suggest my mother was ahead of her time: the cost irrelevant, the fact there was an item that had plenty of life left in it meant it should not be thrown away rather saved for future use.

I now trot onto our new decade in a new century – the date of futuristic films made in the 1980s.  We are not quite at the car flying, dystopian imaginings of those film writers but we are at a watershed moment in many respects, not least with the management of our waste.   Our waste comes at a high cost: in Rutland’s case £1,858,610 / year; the implications on our environment whether viewed in terms of carbon emissions or in basic terms of waste such as plastics that are highly damaging to the natural world.

We then add in significant legislative change that is on the horizon: the Environmental Bill has just had its second reading; this promises to support the country on its journey to net carbon zero.  Crucial headlines for local authorities: a separate food waste collection, free green waste collection and aggressive recycling targets for every authority.

In many ways the timing is helpful: our current waste management contracts are due to end in March 2024, we, therefore have approximately 3 years to re – design this essential, used by everyone service.    Quite clearly – to adapt the oft used Kitchener slogan: ‘Your County Needs You!’  Ultimately, whilst the authority has a statutory duty to process the waste we produce; we are the ones that produce it in the first place.    Any new contract needs us all to be on board – it is only through behaviour change that we will enable Rutland to become a clean, green and sustainable county.  Therefore, I would be eternally grateful if, over your next coffee, you had a read of our waste strategy vision and take a few moments to answer the survey questions.  Your answers are crucial as they will help to inform how we turn a vision into reality.

A couple of things to ponder: (apologies to any teachers reading this for whom the mention of the 3 Rs will induce temporary rigor mortis!)

Reduce, re -use, recycle – to what extent is this your mantra?

Have you checked what you can currently recycle?  Our waste analysis shows that 12% of what goes in our black bins could be recycled.  If we all got that 12% out of our black bins into our grey ones, our recycling rates would rise from a respectable 56% (33rd out of 345 English local authorities) to a league table busting 67.8%.

The obvious frequency of collection, separation of materials (impact on number / type of bins), HWRC sites to mention just three additional aspects needs our consideration.  Any waste strategy needs us all on board; we need to hear your views to ensure we design something that ultimately delivers the ‘right thing to do’.

Please visit:

Councillor Lucy Stephenson

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