Me, my Weetabix, and the waste charges

2nd May 2001

I LIKE Weetabix. I eat the stuff most mornings. Nobody else makes Weetabix except Weetabix. There is some yellow-pack stuff on the market but it’s a pale inferior concoction that amounts to an attack on the taste buds.

When I finish a packet of Weetabix I throw the carton in the bin. What else would I do with it?

Shortly Dublin Corporation is to supply bins specifically for paper waste. You will put your Weetabix carton and whatever into the bin and the corpo’ will take it away and recycle it.

They are going to charge £95 to each household to do it.

This is supposed to be a green plan. It is based on the excellent principle that The Polluter Pays.

This is a load of crap.

Firstly I don’t wrap Weetabix – I only eat it. I’m not responsible for the carton. I would happily remove the little biscuits from the box in the shop but I don’t think that the supermarket staff would appreciate me wrestling with the crumbly critters in the aisle.

So how am I the polluter? Why do I have to pay?

Not only will the Weetabix company not face a charge for their over-packaging, but I am going to pay to clear up their bad design.

Just go down to the local supermarket. How much choice do consumers have over the packaging of the products they buy? Absolutely zilch.

I have always supported recycling. I bring my cans and bottles to the appropriate banks.

However, I now believe that recycling is a serious long-term mistake. By creating a recycling industry we are putting off the day when the real solution will have have to be faced.

Zero-packaging and zero-waste.

In this way the new waste charge is not just un-green – it’s anti-green.

A Weetabix packet will never find its own way back to the factory but it has to go somewhere. If it is recycled, it requires transport work, sorting work, cleaning work and more transport, all of which have their own negative environmental effects.

What should happen is that the producers should be charged up front for the waste that leaves their factories.

In this way there will be a direct onus on them to reduce the volume and nature of the packaging. They will be faced with the problem of getting their product to market without packaging, a problem that can only have positive results for the environment.

In the case of my scrumptious Weetabix this might involve storing them in a bulk bin in the supermarket. Then I come along with my reusable bag and buy as many as I want. I take them home and store them in a little tubberware bin until I devour them.

Eureka! From factory to belly without any packaging whatsoever.

For many different products producers would need to come up with ingenious solutions. And what’s wrong with that?

So you can begin to see that an opportunity is being lost with this new waste policy.

Some people will claim that there will always be some waste. Well there certainly will be if you facilitate it by incineration, recycling and penalising the wrong people.

What is vitally important is to make a start. This waste policy isn’t it.

Of course, the debate isn’t about the policy at all. It’s about the £95 charge.

I think it is a foolish charge on a number of levels.

Firstly, as I’ve explained, it doesn’t make the polluter pay.

Secondly, it assumes everyone is polluting equally.

Thirdly, it assumes that everyone over a certain level of income is equally able to pay it.

Fourthly, it just generates bad feeling towards green issues.

Fifthly, it will cost, I suppose, £10 to £20 per head to collect it.

Sixthly, it will waste political time to no good end.

And finally, it’s a pain in the arse having to pay another charge. They could just take it out of income tax and try not to add to the hassle that living in this bureaucrat-ridden city has now become.

As well as that…

Waste, waste, waste…

A SMALL detail to have escaped attention in the big debate over the BertieBowl is the plan to turn Dunsink tiphead into a car park.

As every schoolboy knows, you can’t build anything on top of a dump for hundreds of years so the plan was, if my memory serves me right, to create some sort of park for the citizens of Finglas (and Dublin) to enjoy.

Now it’s to be covered with tarmac to form an overflow carpark for the great stadium. A case of waste on top of waste perhaps?

Waste, waste, waste…

I HEARD the postman wrestling with something at the door the other morning so I decided to lend a hand. He was trying to insert an Eircom-Vodafone pack in my letterbox.

I opened the door to find the poor man red in the face and as he handed me the pack I reeled backwards under the weight. I haven’t read the thing (you’d want to be some nerd) and I’m sure no-one else has read it either.

Still. Handy for lighting the fire.

…and more waste

ALSO in the door this morning came the Government’s propaganda letter on the Nice Treaty. Two of them actuallly. One for me and one for my beloved.

Did they not think I’d let her read mine?