Cllr Caroline Nichols puts her cardboard, cans and plastic bottles in her new recycling bin but takes her glass containers to the bottle bank. Read on to find out why.
Unlike the old blue box system, which separated the glass, cans and paper at the roadside, the new recycling bin is 'co-mingled'. This means the materials all go mixed up to a Materials Recycling Facility (MRF pronounced 'murf') where they have to be separated out on a conveyor belt with some manual input. Spelthorne uses Grundon's MRF at Colnbrook.
This way of working is OK for cans and plastic bottles but isn't the most environmentally friendly way of dealing with glass. By co-mingling the glass the clear, brown and green glass remain mixed up and cannot go back to the container manufacturers. Instead all the glass is ground up for use in road surfaces. Glass containers are reckoned to be about 10 percent of all household rubbish.
In this country the glass container industry wants clear glass and some brown glass but not green glass. (Green glass is mainly imported wine and beer bottles.) By keeping the colours separate the clear and brown glass can go back to UK manufacturers where it can be recycled over and over again. Some councils are keeping separate glass collection and I have just learned of one which is about to make a small profit by doing just this.
In Spelthorne the 'bring' sites still have bottle banks where the glass is collected separately by colour and taken to a different site at Guildford. At the moment the bottle banks are making a small profit unlike the doorstep collection of glass. The co-mingled doorstep collection is both a significant cost to Spelthorne (and us as council tax payers) and it is not the most environmentally way of recycling the glass.
My gesture is small but I hope others will follow. We will only keep the bottle banks if they are used. At the moment, the banks offer the only opportunity here in Spelthorne to get the clear and brown glass back to the manufacturers. Over the longer term local Liberal Democrats would like to see separate glass collection from the doorstep and more bottle banks.