Saturday, May 16, 2009

Waste Disposal

Our rubbish tax includes a fixed charge & a per-capita charge, so we should be paying less these days, but that seems to be offset by the general increase in charges.
For our tax, we get a weekly household rubbish removal service, with a single 250 litre wheelie bin, which I suppose we could fill every week if we were careless enough.
We never have done, even when there were 6 of us, and now we usually have about 10 litres, mainly light food packaging.

Of course, we generate more waste than 10 litres, but we sort & transport the rest ourselves.
In the village, or actually between the 2 villages which make up our "commune", are a set of covered skips, some for glass, some for paper / cardboard / some-kinds-of-plastic-bottles, & one for oil.
4 km away is the "déchetterie" for several communes, with altogether bigger skips for most other things:
Metal / Wood / Cardboard / Garden / Rubble / Household-electrical / Aerosols / Batteries / Chemicals / Oil / Other.
Regular information leaflets encourage us to put as little as possible in our bins & to put everything else, as well sorted as possible, into the right skips.
This is well explained on ecological & economical grounds, so we do.

So, apart from the light packaging in the wheelie bin, we feed our 4 big compost heaps with whatever will compost.
Non-compostable garden stuff (we don't have a shredder yet…) gets trailered to the déchetterie about weekly.
Paper is the next-biggest item, thanks mainly to all the advertising which arrives twice per day (we haven't put a "stop" notice up yet…) & gets taken to the local skip in 100kg boot-fulls about monthly, together with cardboard, glass & plastic bottles.
All of which means we have to allocate quite a lot of space in the basement for temporary rubbish storage.

The occasional bigger item, dead washing machine, old swing frame, mattress or carpet for instance, has to be stuffed into our old Renault Espace, by bending or sawing if necessary, and taken to the déchetterie.
All the above is OK so long as we have the time, the health, the space, the trailer & the old car to handle it.
But what would/will happen if/when we don't?
Will we end up filling unused rooms with rubbish?

Until recently, there were several-times-per-year "monster" removals.
These were interesting occasions when everybody could put big unwanted stuff outside their house & get it taken away the next morning.
It was not unknown for neighbours to "recycle" the odd bike or chair during the night – and surely that was a good thing.
Should be encouraged.

But now, for economy reasons, the monster collections have stopped.
I think that is a pity.
There must be lots of people, particularly old people, who can't take old beds & cookers to a recycling centre miles away.
A once or twice per year collection would seem reasonable.

There is some discussion about the next steps in refuse collection.
Many places have one or more separate bins for recyclables, which are collected alongside the general rubbish.
A few are starting to charge by weight.
Both of those would be good progress.
Simply increasing the charges seems more likely & less constructive.

Parting thot: "A husband is someone who takes out the trash and gives the impression he just cleaned the whole house." - anon

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