Sunday, November 15, 2009

Does any of Nairn's rubbish goes to China?

Recent media coverage has highlighted the scale of UK rubbish heading elsewhere in the world, somtimes to be recycled or even to be dumped illegally. The Mail on Sunday has an investigation into the amounts of Scottish rubbish going to China. It highlights the obvious fact that it makes no environmental sense at all to send rubbish to the other side of the world as efforts of 'green' households to recycle are cancelled out by the pollution involved in the shipping process. The paper's article (not on-line) at the moment states:
Nearly half of all councils use companies whose main market is in the Far East to dispose of recycled waste. This includes more than 8,000 tons from Fife Council, which is annually exported to China; 5,000 tons from Highland Council, and a proportion of the 35,000 tons collected each year in Dundee.'
So when you put your rubbish out for the scaffies next week it that just simply some of the contents of your green bin taking the first step in a long journey overseas? It is a question of priorities for our society isn't it? Obviously there are dangers involved if we leave recycling to the free market without any contingency should things in that market fluctuate too much. If the government can keep banks going as charity cases then surely they could provide a base line of support for the recycling industry that would mean we really were green instead of pretending to be so as a fleet of trash ships head for China every week? Ironically we probably buy some of it back as the ships might bring goods for our High Streets as they return.

1 comment:

Bill said...

From what I read a while back a lot of things like plastics and aluminium are harvested there and turned into manufactured products which come back to us, from the waste materials we have sent to them.

It works the other way round too - years ago I went round a knitwear factory in Hong Kong (it was a business visit as they were clients), where they only did the value-added fine stitching of knitted panels together into garments and sweaters, etc. Most of the merchandise was ultimately for the the US market, of course. Anyway, the knitted panels were produced either in Scotland or Italy, BECAUSE IT WAS CHEAPER TO DO IT IN THOSE TWO COUNTRIES, using wools and threads manufactured in Japan or Hong Kong, shipped to Europe for knitting before going back to HK for finishing, because the skills to do the value-added there were plentiful and not too costly. The raw materials for the threads and wools obviously came from places like Australia, the US, the UK, Europe generally and places like Peru for specialised materials. It is mind-blowing when you look into how basic products are often produced as a result of multiple trans-global voyages. I don't think most people realise the dramatic changes that will be required in all our economies if this is to change significantly and not just cosmetically to placate the 'green lobby'. Apart from knitwear I have several other personal experiences of different industries where the same kinds of production chains are involved.