If empty bottles had dreams

Green glass bottleMy latest column for the Highgate Handbook and Muswell Hill Flyer is about recycling:

Here’s a question – why do we still need bottle banks when we have doorstep recycling? A relevant question as Haringey Council is on the brink of scrapping them.

Doorstop recycling is great idea in principle. It responds to the reality of any time poor Londoner; there aren’t enough hours in the day to do everything let along make it to the bottle bank. Green boxes are an easy and convenient method that lots of Councils have chosen to increase the amount of waste recycled.

The problem is that it is the best worst option. That might sound a bit strange, but here’s what I mean. Take an ordinary glass bottle, let’s say a wine bottle. After you have finished the last drop of that cheeky red I am sure you diligently put it in your green box.

Here is where the problem starts. Because not only do you put in wine bottle from Friday night, but you also put in the weekend’s newspapers, the pizza flyers that come through your letter box and your plastic milk containers after you finished the last drop milk for your crunchy-nut cornflakes that morning.

When this mix leaves your doorstep and gets crushed in the lorries that transports it to the recovery centre, the damage is done. The dreams of that poor bottle are crushed and that empty bottle of cheeky red has absolutely no chance of ever been turned back into even a milk bottle let alone the finest Chateauneuf-du-Pape.

The bottle does get kind of recycled, but the best that poor bottle can ever hope to be is road fill because of the contamination. Hardly the most glamorous end to your favourite Pinot Noir but more seriously, what is lost when it is recycling in this way is the enormous energy saving potential of that glass. It takes about seven times the amount of energy to make new glass than is does to make glass from recycled glass. An extremely important fact as we try to reduce our carbon footprint.

Until a more perfect and cost effective alternative presents itself, kerbside recycling in its current form is here to stay for a while. But in the meantime, why not keep our bottle banks? When practical, I am sure many people are happy to take their glass to the supermarket bottle bank instead of consigning it to be become part of the M1 extension.

Taking the greenest option away is simply ludicrous and retrograde step in our fight to make our communities more environmentally friendly. I for one will be fighting to keep our bottle banks not only to help drive down our borough’s carbon emission, but so green bottles can still dream of rediscovering their cheeky former selves.

0 thoughts on “If empty bottles had dreams

  1. Couldn’t agree more. We have fairly thorough kerbside recycling in Cardiff, but my ward had two sets of bottle/plastic/paper banks installed six months ago and they’re actually struggling to meet the demand for them!