Thursday, September 11, 2008

Pitching envROI

Subsidised recycling is poor value for money

An interesting piece. Whilst there is little to disagree with in matters of fact, the slant taken become significant. Here an almost pure approach to the financial aspects in terms of return is considered. One can almost imagine that at the other extreme there might be one in the Guardian with uncritical green-tinted glasses advocating the 'environment', no matter what.

Such a shame, as surely between the enterprise and the social there is something more valid in terms of money possible, that can both serve the needs and interests of the planet and those upon it.

An attempt to encapsulate these economic AND environmental principles is attempted in the definition of enviROI*

It is hard to put subsidy and value for money together in the same sentence without accepting the 'value' of the social benefits that are gained.

Rationally, 'wasting' anything cannot be a good thing, and sticking raw materials back in the ground lacks a certain logic, unless one looks at it in a purely short term, time-dependent monentary manner. Surely this is evident by virtue of some landfills being considered for mining now? One has to wonder, much as one would putting one's 1960's mass-production sports coupe on blocks until now, what the 'value' might have been of setting aside useful materials in a segregated manner ready for economies re-embracing into the manufacturing system now. Nothing is infinite. So anything that does not tackle a problem and shunts it away is only a delaying tactic imposed on the future. Understandable, if not laudable if there is no imperative to even think about the problem, much less solutions, but very dubious if clear issues have been identified on the horizon.

I fear I must therefore take issue with the defence of landfill just on the basis of there being more places to stick stuff. It doesn't seem very nice, and it doesn't seem to make much sense.

Therefore my personal advocacy is much more energy (mental, that is) is devoted to more creative ways of reducing our waste in the first place, and making more of that which is, I accept, inevitably produced and discarded. Reduction, reuse...recycling. I fear the current cabal who should have/be addressing this for long enough - government, LAs, quangos (so many quangos), manufacturers, retailers, and even many media - have so far been WOEFUL, if not plain dishonest. At best we have bazzillions going on disjointed systems, little empires and epic comms budgets, all of which seem primarily designed to make it the poor public/consumer's problem.

I agree about the targets. I agree about the jobsworths. But also I agree about the green-blinkered groups, who see anything that is not consumerist as therefore automatically 'good' when, if I understand the debate correctly, the key issue now is Co2 emissions rather than stuff in the wrong place... or generating methane in an unmanaged way. Hence silly ban-wagons that make some feel good when in fact pumping more up in the air than was before.

Sadly, this debate already seems polarised. It's either landfill or recycling. I rather like to think there may be something in between that occupies a satisfactory middle ground and even, god forbid, ticks a few boxes, too.

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