Wednesday, 9 July 2008

"Tories unveil recycling pay plans"

Oh dear.

More economic illiteracy from George Osborne.

1. Households can't recycle their rubbish. All they can do is separate it out into its constituent parts, some of which should indeed be recycled (aluminium), some of which burns like tinder (most packaging), some of which can be turned into compost/methane and so on.

2. Aluminium cans do have a modest scrap value, £1 or £2 for a bin liner full. If the value is high enough, then private businesses would go round and collect them and pay on the door. Like rag'n'bone men in days of yore. If the council wants to do this, and can make a profit in it, then great. It does not need legislation or gummint interference.

3. The same goes for everything else that could be recycled - paper, glass and steel. But if it isn't profitable for private businesses to go round collecting and paying for this stuff, why should councils do it?

4. Landfill Tax is the craziest tax of all - it has now gone up to £39.37 per ton. As the blogging boat Raedwald pointed out, there are plenty of quarries that we can fill up first before we need to use agricultural land. And even if we needed to use agricultural land, stripped of agricultural subsidies, it's worth (say) £2,000 an acre. That's 41 pence per square yard. Assuming you can cram ten tons of rubbish on one square yard, the value of the land used for one ton, is ... er ... 4.1p. So that's an effective tax rate of 9,900% give or take.

5. As to EU targets, sod 'em. We can just leave, can't we?

See also MW's more detailed household waste policy.

See also Matt Davies at Woking Libertarians, who rips into this in even closer detail.


Harry Haddock said...

All good stuff, except;

If the council wants to do this, and can make a profit in it, then great. It does not need legislation or gummint interference.

Sorry to be pedantic, but a council entering into a market is gummint interference. That isn't what they are there for..

Mark Wadsworth said...

HH, sure, but as councils already pay for lorries to go round collecting stuff, the subcontractor can pick up different types of stuff in one pass, i.e. at a lower marginal cost than a new entrant.

If councils pay £x to subcontractors to collect rubbish, then next time the contract is up for grabs, they can haggle the subcontractor down by £y for the value of aluminium cans that they collect.

Or, in the unlikely event that the value of recycleable stuff they collect exceeds the cost of getting rid of the stuff that's only appropriate for landfill, the council can auction off the right to collect rubbish.

And like it or not, making sure that rubbish gets collected is a core function of local councils (but not of The State, per se).

Bill Quango MP said...

Osbourne!! Labour tax you..we will reward you.
We already know this. Get some proper policies man and stop the politics.

Anonymous said...

At some point in the future, we are going to have to face facts and find out that oil is way too expensive, and that Britain still has lots of coal deposits.

So, once we start mining coal again, can we use the space left after coal is extracted to store highly compacted domestic rubbish, possibly pre-seeded with anaerobic bacteria chosen for making methane in such conditions?

Once each area of coal is worked out, you still have a fuel source since the rubbish packed in instead would generate methane for decades.

woman on a raft said...

True story.

Good news, the council arrange waste-plastic collection. Dutifully recover all plastics from packaging and stash the lot in a bag labelled 'plastic'.

The council contractor (Veolia) collect it. Some untidy sod, however, chucks a plastic bag up the garden, so I tut-tut, and put it in the recycling.

Later the sprog explains this is the Official Plastic Bag, evidenced by being tied in an Offical Knot. Wild bags just blow about. Knotted bags are domesticated.

Retrieve bag and read instructions on it. It says: 'Plastic bottles only, no tops, nothing else'. Bugger. Appear to have poisoned the waste collection truck with enthusiastic mistake.

Mark Wadsworth said...

WOAR, round our way is even more bizarre. You collect The Official Bags from newsagent. Until March it was 'plastic bags & bottles only, NO tops' then they changed it to 'plastic bags & bottles AND plastic bottle tops'. Fair enough, it all melts and/or burns just as nicely.

Further, as tidy citizens, Her Indoors & I use different bags for cans, plastic and paper. But I have noticed that other people put anything on the Official List (cans, paper, plastic bags & bottles AND tops) all in one bag.

I suppose this 'creates' jobs at a boring production line where some poor sods have to separate it all out again by hand again, which seems to me to be far more hassle than getting it right first time. Ah well.

neil craig said...

As a society we are so wealthy that for government to take half our money requires them to find ways to spend it on far more than just welfare.

Thus we get subsidised recycling, windmills, & inspectors forv eveything from bypasses to smoking.

I am convinced that we can afford our welfare state, NHS etc just not the civil servants to administer them.

"The prime purpose of government is to pay government employees" Jerry Pournelle