After reading the many letters relating to the cost of disposing of household rubbish and the consequent dumping of that rubbish, along with news that the council proposes two expensive exercises to cope with waste, I decided to do some simple research.
First question, where does all this rubbish come from? Simple answer – ourselves, aided and abetted by retail outlets such as supermarkets and department stores.
Research tells me that loose snow peas cost $8.98 per kilogram. Packaged in an unnecessary plastic container the cost becomes $19.92 per kilogram, beans from $6.98 to $9.93, mushrooms $10.98 to $16.98.
This prepackaging creates a massive profit increase for the company and increases the amount of waste because people buy a package and not just what they require, so the surplus ends up in landfill.
Research confirms that around 50 per cent of the food we buy becomes waste. A television show, The People’s Supermarket, proved that supermarket chains’ packaging policies and arbitrary use-by dates were directly responsible for this waste.
Now move on to other forms of unnecessary waste found in supermarkets, department stores and electrical stores – blister-packed items. I recently bought a couple of audio leads. They came in blister packs measuring 20 centimetres by 12 centimetres by four centimetres thick, made up of cardboard and armour-plated plastic.
This type of wasteful packaging is found everywhere you look in just about every store. It does not compact and it does not break down in landfill.
Some things have to be packaged to protect them and some for health reasons, but the amount and type of packaging has got out of hand and we have to pay to dispose of it. This leads to the question, why are we so happy to pay for this waste when we go shopping but oppose paying to dispose of it?
Yes, we pay a garbage charge in our rates that covers a weekly standard collection. So why should we expect free or reduced costs to dispose of waste that we and no one else is responsible for, over and above our weekly collection?
One solution to this problem could be a waste levy imposed on all retail outlets such as supermarkets and department stores and in fact, every store that markets products sold in unnecessary packaging.
I can hear the cries going up that the stores will only pass the cost on to customers, but with a little adjustment it would only be passed on to those who buy those products. The money raised could be used to reduce tipping fees or issue free vouchers. In this way those who create the waste would pay, instead of those who are more conscientious in reducing waste, having to subsidise those who are not.
When it comes down to it we are all responsible and we should not expect another freebie or a general rate rise to solve it. We cannot expect to follow the example of a man in the UK who throws out one bag of garbage per year. We can, however, listen to him when he explains that 50 per cent of what fills our garbage bins each week is air.