Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Recycling

So I phoned the council this morning to ask what we should be doing with all these spent batteries. Because my children were concerned about all this Cadmium and Mercury going back into the soil. I'd promised to find out.
"So Mr Waste Disposal Expert, what's to be done?"
"You put them in the wheelie bin and they go into landfill."
"But isn't that a bad thing?"
"Yes."
"So everyone is concerned and the government is telling us that we should be disposing of our waste responsibly and you are saying that we should throw n our spent batteries into our wheelie bins, not in the recycycling bins?"
"That's right. We haven't the mechanism right now to deal with batteries."
"But the Government says we need to dispose of this in a clean and environmentally friendly way."
"I know but what can you do?"
"You're the expert."
"Well the new law says that the manufacturers have a call back on everything they produce so companies like Eveready and Duracell will be responsible for collecting all the used batteries. But they haven't got the infrastructure in place yet. I would guess they will organise it through their distributers. It'll be a chain."
"Can't I as a retailer just collect the batteries and take them down the tip on behalf on my customers."
"No."
"Why not?"
"Because you're a trader and subject to trade waste regulations. We would have to charge you for disposing of trade waste. but it's not trade waste it's domestic waste all collected in one big crate in one spot."
"It wont work we were caught out with the fridges. We ended up with 20,000 fridges that we couldn't move because no one had the capacity to deal with the waste. We had to store these fridges for two years before we managed to get rid of them. It's the same with the batteries. In the future we'll cope but right now they're all going into land fill. Things are moving, the mechanism is being put into place but we're not sure when or how."
"So until then we can't do our bit for the environment?"
"Not without it costing you money. Phone me back in two months. Things might have changed."
"Ok."

Well the guy I spoke to was really nice. He wanted to do a job but couldn't. He was realistic. He knew the aims, the end result, but his hands were tied because not everyone or every manufacturer is in the groove yet. It's going to take time. Meanwhile if you didn't already realise it your appliances are going to cost more. Because the manufacturers will have to factor in the cost of disposing of your old toaster, kettle, computer, TV even car. So nows the time to buy stuff while it's cheap. Next year your kettle will cost more. Maybe we'll get back to the idea of repairing stuff rather than sending it to landfill and buying another. I can only hope. But of course that's not good for the manufacturers. They want to make more stuff not have the old ones repaired. But if they are making enough profit on the original purchase that shouldn't matter.

It's going crazy out there. We used to buy so many kettle elements that we bought them direct from the manufacturer in crates of 100. We sold them for £6.50 each. I can't remember the last time we sold a kettle element. Morrisons are selling a brand new kettle for £5.79.

I used to employ three engineers just to fix kettles toasters and Irons. Now we almost never repair them. We, reluctantly have to advise custumors that they are not worth fixing or worse we can't even get the spares because they're made in the People Republic of China. Something is wrong in this world. Very wrong.

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