What’s to be done about rubbish?
Newport and neighbouring authorities, Blaenau Gwent and Torfaen face fines for failing to meet Welsh government recycling targets.
As this blog pointed out recently, the way we handle our rubbish is not working, but how will fining a severely cash-strapped local authority, help matters in the long run?
Newport can’t afford to repair roads or damaged pavements; it’s cut back on school transport; it’s trying to tackle mountains of illegally dumped rubbish, by people too lazy to dispose of it themselves.`
Unfortunately its council tax receipts, which Labour boasted were the “second lowest in Wales” are not enough to run a city of 140,000 inhabitants. Welsh government time would be better spent on coming up with more efficient ways for people to tackle the escalating volumes of waste, caused not just by the average householder, but by the plethora of fast-food outlets dominating every town and city.
There needs to be a concerted effort to tackle once and for all, the huge problems caused by plastics and packaging in general. Many plastics are actually harmful to the environment and there is nowhere for them to go.
“First world” greed means we eat on the go; we shop when we want; we keep buying those plastic supermarket bags, which then fly around neighbourhoods causing problems for wildlife, particularly birds.
Rubbish isn’t sexy so we won’t see David Beckham, or the latest pin-up boy or girl pleading with manufacturers to cut back on packaging. Wealth is part of the problem. We’re a throwaway society, like the united States has been since the 1950s.
Newport’s recycling rate is 57 per cent, which given the tardiness of many households, isn’t that bad and is very close to the government target of 58 per cent.
Newport Council’s present system doesn’t work. It’s too cluttered, too messy, too inconvenient and time-consuming. But the Welsh government response to impose fines is not the way forward.
Newport has its problems, but Blaenau Gwent is the poorest authority in Wales. How would fines help there?