Friday, 15 April 2011

Waste - the problem that won’t go away

As members of the NO2Incinerator campaign we are fully committed to stopping the building of an incinerator in Leeds, not because we are NIMBY’s but because we don’t want to see this outdated, expensive and inflexible technology used to try to solve a fast moving, ever evolving 21st century problem.

One thing is certain; we cannot go on as we are.  Putting large amounts of reusable, recyclable waste into a large hole in the ground is a very bad idea on the grounds of cost, availability of sites and environmental impact - this is about the only thing that the opposing sides in this dispute actually agree on.

We though feel that incineration is an equally bad solution to the problem.  It is time to face up to the real causes of the waste stream problem, not only city-wide but also nationally - the over production of waste itself. 

Much of what we, in Leeds, throw away as rubbish is in fact, valuable recyclable materials which are rapidly becoming scarcer in this modern world.

The unpleasant but inescapable truth about our household waste problem has not been sufficiently highlighted by our politicians, mainly because of an unpalatable fact we just don’t want to face – however face it we must, we simply cannot continue with our profligate lifestyle as it is becoming ever more unsustainable in the long term.

Changes must be made to how we shop, reducing the amount of packaging we are willing to accept or have come to expect, after all do tomatoes, kiwis or peppers really need to be sold on a plastic tray covered in clingfilm?  Not using extra plastic bags at the supermarket but taking our own re-useable ones, buying products marketed with substantially less packaging wherever possible or where packaging is made from recycled materials will make a difference and after all the cost of all the extra packaging has to be reflected in the price of the product.  Keeping food waste to an absolute minimum by not buying more than can be used is a good way to save money and help the environment too but where food must be thrown away it should, wherever possible, be composted instead of going to landfill to rot and produce dangerous gasses.

Clothes, books and toys can be recycled using Charity shops and jumble sales so the items benefit many other people.  Many local supermarkets these days have a bin to recycle used household batteries shoes and paper. 

Larger items of furniture and household goods can be recycled using excellent community organisations like FREECYCLE, EMMAUS, St VIncents, SLATE and SEAGULLS.

NO2INCINERATOR is also campaigning for more recycling bins around residential areas for the collection of glass, plastic and paper and more kerb side collection of waste by the council such as the unexpectedly successful food waste collection trial recently run in Rothwell were waste collection targets were smashed.

Even at the end of all this we do realise that there will be waste that cannot be further treated and will have to be disposed of, but with government support on offer and large financial rewards available to anyone who comes up with a safer and more cost effective method of waste treatment we are confident that really innovative solutions will come forward to offer a more efficient and effective 21st century solution to this problem.

We are not saying that solving this difficult problem will be easy, it won’t, we’re not saying that solving this problem will be cheap, it won’t, but we are saying that it is a nettle which we will have to grasp either willingly or unwillingly.  We simply cannot go on as we have been and if people will not listen and change willingly then councils and indeed governments may decide on a more carrot and stick approach to gaining our co-0peration. 


  1. Well I am trying to reduce my waste. I now buy milk in bags not plastic bottles, have invested in soda stream which saves me a fortune in fizzy water and has the bonus of not using plastic bottles that have to go to landfill or be recycled. I use Nancy my trusty shopping trolley so I don’t need plastic bags when I shop + she is used to cart my glass to the recycling bank.
    And best of all I had my winter boots repaired for £13 which probably saved me a £100 on buying a new pair.
    Being waste aware is a challenge but it certainly isn’t the chore I thought it would be. If I can do it anybody can.

  2. We only need some quite small changes in our lifestyle to make a not of insignificant difference in our waste output and as you say some of the changes have the side benefit of actually saving you money too.

    I think that education is the key in this process.