There was a briefing arranged today by the team which will be coming to Launceston over the summer to run a six week waste reduction initiative.
At the moment, each resident of Cornwall produces on average half a ton of rubbish per year and only around 37% is recycled. Of the remaining 63%, a quarter is material that could have been recycled.
Included in the rubbish is around 70kg of food waste per year. This isn't the peelings and scraps which are useful for compost but inedible. This is waste food which has simply not been eaten and has gone past its best and is worth around £400 for each person.
Unfortunately, the emphasis of the waste reduction team was on saving money, rather than on environmental issues. Of course the financial element is very important as landfill costs are now more than £78 a ton, but I would have hoped that equal emphasis would have been given to the green agenda.
The waste reduction team wanted to know what the attendees thought were the priorities for Launceston. We suggested a number of things including helping residents of estates with communal bins to recycle. We also wanted to know what the group could do to help businesses. Local firms cannot get their waste picked up by the council but have to pay for it to be taken away. In theory, all businesses also have to show that they either recycle themselves or that their waste contractor does so for them. However I know that many of them struggle to do so as firms are banned from using domestic recycling facilities or from taking their recyclables to Bangors Lane.
Regrettably, the team explained that their remit was limited to domestic waste although they had produced a guide for businesses. I think it can be a turn off to householders if they think that their recycling efforts are being undermined by firms who will not, or cannot, recycle. I'd like to hope that the team will think again about working with businesses.
The other major disappointment today was the turnout. As well as myself and four of our town councillors there was just a single resident. I hope that the team is able to boost interest in the project before the real work starts on July 5th.
The project will include talks to schools, a big green ticket - a sort of raffle where householders who register and recycle could win £100 - and a junk exchange event in September where local residents can dispose of their unwanted items and pick up other people's cast offs for free.