Recycling Our Future

Insight into the recycling world by Ranjit Baxi

What shocks me after so many years in this industry is how little people ( who should know better) understand about waste: investors are hypnotised by the technology without appreciating the basic requirements – quality ; many in the industry seem to have little knowledge or first hand experience about the markets into which they are selling governments and local authorities have for years failed to grasp the value of the one raw material which will never run out and seem willing to give away the potential profits by outsourcing the problem to contractors who can’t believe their luck; and why do householders seem to be so willing to act as unpaid sorters on domestic picking lines in their own homes?.

When you screw up a ball of paper and throw it onto your waste paper basket, pause for a moment and consider not only where that sheets of paper came from but about the journey it may be about to embark on. If you are careful about how you separate your waste paper it may soon be on the high seas heading for China, which accounted for 25 per cent of the  world demand and 26 per cent of global production for all paper and board in 2012 retaining its position as the world leader for fourth consecutive year. And yet, times are changing.

The traditional dumping grounds of our waste, usually Eastern and African destinations, are saying no more as they too begin to favour quality of quantity. This is having an impact on the whole industry and will in time no doubt be felt at household level as we adopt to new conditions in the global market.

There is much that needs to change as we consume our natural resources faster then they can be replaced as the world’s population grows, becomes increasingly affluent and therefore ever more demanding and wasteful. Developing nations want to enjoy the high life just as much as the rest of us have done for years and who has the right to stop them ? We can shout about the need for a zero waste policy but we must recognise and allow for growth, Legislation, one of the most influential drivers of what we do with our waste, is in disarray; someone described the waste management generally to be in a state of anarchy. It is already late but we must Recycle Our Future and we only do that by understanding how the process works.