Friday, 27 August 2010

Plastic City!

Following in the footsteps of the esteemed Mr and Mrs Green over at My Zero Waste, who have written a blog about their recent holidays from a waste conscious perspective. I've just spent a few days in Leicestershire, staying with relatives. My mothers house comes under the jurisdiction of Blaby District Council, who seem to take an enlightened approach to waste, although they provide two large wheelie bins and two smaller ones (for glass and recyclables). Which can cause problems if you lack space outside of the house.

But it was a piece in the local paper, the Leicester Mercury that caught my eye, it appears that recycling rates in the city of Leicester, have actually fallen over recent years, which is in stark contract to the overall national picture where recycling has risen. Leicester City Council in conjunction with Biffa, the company who collect waste in the city, have decided to test trail a new method of collecting waste for recycling. Their plan is to get rid of the green wheelie bin and provide plastic bags instead! In its favour the new scheme will allow Biffa to collect a greater range of waste including mixed plastics. Whilst Leicester council is renowned for its innovative approach to waste, I just can't help but wonder if this isn't retrograde step?

In its favour this city council has also recently opened a state of the art recycling plant called the 'Ball Mill' a fully mechanised waste processing and recycling facility, designed to treat all household waste.

The Ball Mill is the only one of its kind in the UK and can divert up to 70% of household waste from landfill. The process extracts all metal, cardboard, plastic and organic material and sends these for recycling, composting or energy recovery.

I took a trip into Leicester itself whilst I was there too, little sign of any revolt against plastic in evidence around the city though. In fact the ubiquitous carrier bag, with the names of various companies, embedded across the front, appeared to be very much in vogue. Whilst almost every store seemed to me to be a plastic lovers heaven!


  1. Interesting to read about Ball Mill; it sounds like a very forward-thinking set up.

    I'm failing to see why changing from a bin to a bag means the local council can collect more materials, however....

  2. Rae, the explanation given to the Leicester Mercury, from a council official was, "we're always looking for ways to make it easier for people to recycle.In other parts of the country where this has been trialled, recycling has gone up by a quarter!"

    I'm at a loss too, in understanding just why people find it easier to put waste in a bag then a bin, unless it's because they can carry a bag around the home with them, whereas they find it too difficult to take it out to the bin. Bearing in mind that the area where this trial is going to happen has a lot of flats, I may just begin to understand.