Monday, May 16, 2011

Recycling insanity

I often think that everything in this country is upside down, that what ought to be the natural and desirable state of affairs has been turned on its head. Celebrity chefs and footballers earn fortunes, surgeons earn a pittance; the honest and hard-working are penalised by redistributive taxation that both rewards fecklessness and (therefore) encourages it; institutions of higher learning - indeed institutions generally - are neutered in what should be their avowed goals in favour of abstract ideological ambitions usually manifested in quotas; the omnipresent application of the precautionary principle whose costs, financial or otherwise, are never measured and which usually ends up causing more harm than good, people supposedly living in poverty are routinely fat* ... these are broad brush examples but they can be illustrated by thousands of examples from daily life, thousands of instances with which we're all familiar from the newspapers ... the sexually incontinent jihadi claiming hundreds of thousands in benefits to support his massive family (...ies), the free NHS breast enhancement for transsexual soldiers, the foreign criminals who cannot be deported, the politicians who claim taxpayers' money for things the rest of us must pay for ourselves, the university turning a blind eye to academic underachievement in favour of quota fulfilment and on and on ... and on and on

... and then there is recycling.

The photograph above was taken recently in my kitchen. Mrs Lud takes seriously the threats of the local council to criminalise us for failing to sort our rubbish as it sees fit, hence the pile of detritus next to the bin which makes this very expensive (at least as far as I was concerned when we bought it) kitchen resemble a student squat or the corner of a shanty town. And like so many others thus threatened, she is either not persuaded or not open to persuasion on the argument that landfill is a NIMBY political problem not a problem of lack of space, or that if one is concerned about scarce resources and hence the need to recycle then any cost-benefit anaylsis of recycling must consider the efficient allocation of those resources that go into recycling**, that is: can this effort - the rinsing of the cans and bottles, the paper towels to dry them,the separate trips to the separate collection bins, the manufacture of those (plastic) separate collection bins, the deployment of separate collection trucks - be better deployed in some other way? For that matter, perhaps we should buy another bin or two to accommodate this irrational overflow and if so should it be plastic (oh, the environmental horror!) or more of the sleek Brabantia variety, all of which will itself ultimately have to be recycled and would in any event require those ghastly carbon emissions to be conveyed from the source of manufacture to our door...?

But to return to my original point: everything in this country seems to me to be upside down, and in that photo we see a very good example, for compliance with the law requires us to make a rubbish tip of our kitchen thereby reversing centuries of domestic sanitary progress.

* Murderers get "life", which means 15 years, or whatever. Every other offender sentenced to custody serves half, except the very many who serve less even than that. Oh, and importers of recreational pharmaceuticals for retail to voluntarily consenting adults can expect more bird than anyone who hasn't committed a double murder.

**It's worth remembering the bleeding obvious that prices reflect supply and demand thus, if there is a concern that the world will run out of glass, or the raw materials that make glass, then the price of glass will increase and demand for a secondary market in the supply of second-hand glass likewise will increase. In other words, those empty wine bottles we're required to recycle would have commercial value to us once the wine has been drunk and there would be no need for them compulsorily to be recycled. Similarly, the fact there is little or no commercial value in old wine bottles tells us something important about the need (in fact, lack thereof) to prioritise recycling glass.


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