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Study urges fresh approach to household recycling - COMMENT UPDATE

Householders are becoming increasingly confused and disenchanted by local authorities efforts to encourage residents to recycle more, according to new research.

A study by Oxford Universitys Said Business School suggests there is a mismatch between the aspirations behind council run recycling schemes and householders own ideas about how waste should be handled. Complex categories of waste management and presentation employed by local authorities lead members of the public to worry about possible fines, view recycling as too time consuming, or to continue with the categories and routines of waste management with which they are familiar.

The research suggests cutting the number of categories of waste for householders to recycle in favour of fewer aggregate categories, such as paper, glass and plastic, while reducing the ways in which residents are expected to present their waste. Responsibility for sorting waste should be transferred back to local authorities, according to the reports authors.

Said Business School Professor Steve Woolgar said: People feel their lives are increasingly being controlled by ordinary objects and everyday technologies, and recycling and waste management is one area where passions are aroused. We need to understand why this is happening.

The study included a five-week survey of more than 10,000 recycling boxes, interviews with a cross-section of householders and observation of disposal practices at a recycling centre.


13/4/07: I have been of the opinion for a long time that not all homes/families shoud be looked upon by beaurocrasy as alike in the matter of recycling, sorting, and organic waste handling. One size does not fit all. It is good to hear someone of some basic intellectual authority voice this obvious fact and I hope someone is out there listening.
Posted by Sylvia Hopwood, The Recycle Works Limited

I don't think this report is trying to place blame for any wrong doing. While its conclusion may be rather absolute, the message of potential confusion due to over-elaborate collections and inequality in councils' apetite to fine under the EPA is quite clear. I think may be this should have been the conclusion rather than to try and solve the problem from perhaps a standpoint that is not totally informed, lacks the relevant experience and knowledge base required to resolve these types of issues. Yes, may be people are becoming disenfranchised but the answer may not be to put the onus on Councils. In a customer facing industry, where the solution is mutually beneficial, there is no us and them mentality. There must be an US; and WE need to solve problems that will impact on us directly through Council Tax/ Income tax/ etc and indirectly through lower quality of life and environment associated with less favourable waste management routes.
Posted by James Lloyd, HotRot

10/4/07: People have to take responsibility for what they do and in the case of waste, responsibility for the waste they create. Passing the responsibility for sorting waste back to the councils does not make people face up to their responsibilities. Why should councils have to pick up the problem? Waste is caused by the producer of the product who provides excess packaging or relies on others to get rid of the basic packaging because they deem it uneconomic for them to do so (what is wrong with returnable bottles - do we really mind if a soft drink comes in a scratched recycled bottle?). There are ways of extracting recyclables from the waste stream but if we can get the householders who create the waste to do it for nothing then why should the councils pay for sorting when they alread

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