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How can we cut down on our rubbish?

12:15 UK time, Thursday, 29 July 2010

The government wants to cut down on the amount of rubbish we produce in England. How can this be achieved?

Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman has launched a review of how to achieve a "zero waste" economy. The review will look at cutting product packaging and rewarding people for throwing less away.

Other proposals include processing recyclable rubbish rather than sending it abroad.

Councils will also be asked to come up with ways to improve the frequency and "quality" of bin collections and will look at the problems caused by multiple wheelie bins.

Do you agree with government proposals to cut waste? How can the government encourage households to recycle more? Do you think there should be fewer wheelie bins? What facilities would enable you to recycle and reuse more?

This debate has now been closed. Thank you for your comments.


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  • Comment number 1.

    It only takes a minute to see where most of the rubbish comes from.
    Walk down any high street and you'll see all the packaging.
    look at the side of roads and you'll see it.

    People have no respect anymore for areas.
    cheap rubbish toys everywhere you look.
    bicycles pilling up
    Cheap carpets
    cheap wooden floors
    everything you want and nothing you can keep. it started in the 80s with black effect wood. And never stopped!.
    Go to any rubbish dump! look at the overtime these people have done just to buy something that will need replaced in a year.
    look at all the TVs its such a shame the hours away from kids to buy the old Tv. while nobody looks after the kids they dump their rubbish on the street.
    And the adults dump the Tvs so they can work more hours to buy a new fridge freezer.
    it goes on and on in a never ending circle...

  • Comment number 2.

    When I was living in Canada, the town where I lived instituted a 'wet-dry' recycling system.

    All kitchen scraps, garden waste, and completely sodden paper like kitchen towels and tissues went to a city compost heap. The compost heap was used to help maintain the flowerbeds in local parts. You could also buy back soil, wood chips, and mulch from them for the equivalent of about 50p a bag.

    All dry waste (plastics, paper, metal, textiles, etc...) went to a sorting centre that employed local people. Recyclable stuff was passed onto various companies for further processing, and non-recyclables were often found uses for rather than going to the rubbish tip.

    This system was brilliant in its simplicity. There were only two bins, and people knew what to put in them. The city picked up everything once a week, and (to my mind) made good decisions about the best use of what they collected.

    I think some English councils have overly complex, confusing recycling systems that require more pre-sorting of rubbish than most people are happy to do. My mother-in-law is constantly complaining that Buckinghamshire County Council's system is like this.

    By contrast, our council here in London (Greenwich) is actually pretty good. We have three bins (blue, green, black), and so is also quite simple. However, I'd really like to see more done to re-use organic waste the way I'd seen it done elsewhere.

  • Comment number 3.

    Shut David Cameron and Nick Clegg up?

    Ban all Murdochs newspapers?

    Why is it that not a day goes past at the moment without some Government department asking for advice on how to do their job? Says it all about the quality of people coming from our universities......

  • Comment number 4.

    Cut down of packaging!

  • Comment number 5.

    By improving kerb side collections of recycled materials - we used to be able to recycle cardboard and vegetable peelings. Now we can't do either as "they had too much cardboard" and "vegetables may have come into contact with meat while in the fridge" (however they'll take my grass that is used as a toilet by my dogs! work that one out).

    They have never collected plastic and we have a very small box for paper, bottles and tins, collected fortnightly.

    Additionally, bring in a packaging tax - I bought a cartridge for my printer and it had so much packaging it was rediculous. Cardboard around the cartridge, a cardboard box underneath it that served no apparent purpose, general advertising card and then all wrapped in that plastic that you can't open without the use of a strong pair of scissors. What a waste - a cartridge that measured about 6cm x 3 cm came in 30cm x 15cm of packaging.

  • Comment number 6.

    Can I be radical?

    Why not get rid of all these multi coloured wheelie bins and baskets, put all your rubbish in one big tub, (just like we used to before the tree huggers started to think they ruled the world) that gets sent to the council headquarters, and is then sorted by the people that this government clearly do not want to send to jail.

    The processed / sorted waste could then be sold to pay compensation to the criminals victims.

  • Comment number 7.

    hasnt this subject been covered before?

  • Comment number 8.

    BURN IT ...and heat the old folks homes with it, simple or wot?

  • Comment number 9.

    Burn it on a bonfire in the back garden.

  • Comment number 10.

    How can we cut down on our rubbish?

    Target manufacturers.

    No consumer in the country sets out to do their shopping thinking @I hope I get loads of extraneous packaging with my goods, so i can sit down and sort out the recycling on Sunday night.'

    No one buys a magazine thinking 'I hope this is choc full of loose leaf adds for products i don't want - that'll top the compost heap up'.

    Exactly the same with unsolicited mail.

    So why penalise consumers for disposing of something they never wanted in the first place?

  • Comment number 11.

    After any weekly food shopping there is always a huge amount of excess packaging to be disposed of - not just essential protection type packaging but outside wrappers, shrinkwrapping etc - none of which is essential for the safe transport of most items - so - supermarkets and manufacturers should stop paying lip service to the notion of reducing packaging and actually get serious about it .

  • Comment number 12.

    To make a massive difference to the volume of waste, encourage innovation AND stimulate some manufacturing in this country, the government could simply make it law that, within say 2 years, all consumable goods packaging should either be 100% bio degradable, or 100% recyclable/re-usable. Then, within 5 years, all packaging for all goods must meet the same criteria.

    This would put an end to the senselessly large and elaborate packaging that some foodstuffs have these days (sometimes i swear the packaging costs more than the food) and also would put an end to the ridiculously large packaging and plastic foam packaging for TV's and the like.

  • Comment number 13.

    I agree 100% with cutting product packaging - this is the bulk of my waste.

    I totally disagree with rewarding people for cutting down waste - just another expensive admin process that does not generate income.

  • Comment number 14.

    Supermarkets/department stores etc should be obliged to take back any packaging.

  • Comment number 15.

    Look, this is just insane - I am fed up with the enviro'mental'ist fascist freaks in the UK and the rest of Europe! Just take my rubbish away and then do whatever you wish to do with it! Stop telling me I have to sort it, clean it, and place it carefully into various different bins! Just stop all this nonsense and provide the service the public require! Did you know, when I lived in China some enterprising people would regularly visit our residential building development to sort through the rubbish and take away anything recyclable - they made a living and residence didn't need to spend time sorting out the rubbish on behalf of some small minded council 'rubbish technician'...

    If the Government wants to reduce the amount of rubbish I throw away, go talk to the corporations and producers who make the rubbish!

    I suggest the British public be very careful - I spend much time in Germany and here the neighbours spy on your bins and report you for putting the wrong rubbish in the wrong place. Its almost impossible to get rid of your rubbish here! Regular car journeys to various different locations to dispose of glass, bottle and anything else deemed inappropriate to throw in the bin! We are even charged extra when we buy stuff and are forced to return plastics to the supermarkets in order to get our cash back! Its just layer upon layer of stupidity!

    I DO NOT CARE about rubbish - I just want to throw it away or not have to bring it all into the house in the first place! So force the manufactures and supermarkets to reduce the amount of garbage attached to every product I purchase! A Simple solution, but my guess is some mystic will come up with a complex plan which will include fines for the powerless consumer if you fail to follow the 'rules' ...... its all rubbish ;-)

  • Comment number 16.

    The different approaches taken by different councils only confuses the user.

    I reckon my council (Brent) does a pretty good job of it. The system is similar to the Greenwich example given. We have 2 wheelie bins (one green for organic waster and one grey for non-recyclable waste) and 1 green box (for glass, paper and some plastics).

    Apart from the disposal of plastics, which does seem particularly challenging, the system seems to work well.

  • Comment number 17.

    Don't buy so much stuff. Most of it is unnecessary.

  • Comment number 18.

    To make a massive difference to the volume of waste, encourage innovation AND stimulate some manufacturing in this country, the government could simply make it law that, within say 2 years, all consumable goods packaging should either be 100% bio degradable, or 100% recyclable/re-usable. Then, within 5 years, all packaging for all goods must meet the same criteria.

    This would put an end to the senselessly large and elaborate packaging that some foodstuffs have these days (sometimes i swear the packaging costs more than the food) and also would put an end to the ridiculously large packaging and plastic foam packaging for TV's and the like.

  • Comment number 19.

    I think all Supermarkets of every kind and all major stores should have an obligation to provide a contribution towards local waste collection equivalent to the tonnage of packaging they sell or provide. At the moment Supermarkets seem to be making profits by dumping their responsibilities in the laps of the local authorities.
    We also need far more sorting plants for non organic rubbish.These are vastly superior to people trying to sort rubbish themselves. Politicians (of every party) failed the Nation by not legislating and possibly subsidising the construction of such plants before the EU regulations became mandatory. The House of Commons was content to waste its time on silly power squabbles and debating hunting instead of having representative democracy and dealing with the practical issues, like power supplies and rubbish disposal, which affect everyday life.

  • Comment number 20.

    Excessive packaging is the key problem. In my household, we do our best and find that we generate more recycling than anything else - which we're proud of. We also use cotton shopping bags (I have an abundance from my year in Australia) When I buy fruit and vegetables, I don't use the plastic bags to put them in (much to the annoyance of the checkout assistants) - why do I need a bag for two courgettes, etc? This cuts down on the amount of plastic I use.

    However, I must admit I've not been using my brown bin in the hot weather. It's only collected once a fortnight and, as I can't wrap the items even in kitchen roll or newspaper, the number of flies and the smell was unbearable.

    As a consumer, I should not be taxed for the waste I produce as a lot of this is down to the manufacturer. It feels like I pay an extra tax as I pay someone to clean all three of my bins once a fortnight as well (shouldn't this be part of the rubbish collection service and come out of my council tax - I mean, what else do I see for it?).

    I agree with the comments where we should employ people to sort the rubbish - job generation and likely to mean we recycle even more as a nation.

  • Comment number 21.

    PACKAGING. The single most contributable factor to todays waste is packaging.

    Look at all the rubbish on a toy thats made in China. Lets not stop importing these goods, but instead put a packaging tax on them. Make the polluter pay.

    Food...why not have cereals,rices and pulses in big containers where you can scoop out what you want into an enviromentally friendly bio-degradeable paper bag.......NOPE. health and safety

    Too many stupid laws preventing proper thinking from being implemented.

  • Comment number 22.

    Continuing education, we still have too many people throwing out rubbish out of cars or in the street. We went past Guildfest music festival in Guildford earlier this month and it was incredible to see people camping in a sea of rubbish they had created. We should also make producers more responsible for the recycling particularly in the fast food area and supermarkets.

  • Comment number 23.

    I do not recycle anything and never will until the government starts taking the initiative and forcing manufacturers to reduce the amount of packaging they use.
    The local council, whom I pay to remove my rubbish via my exhorbitant council tax (which probably goes to their pensions), can sort my rubbish out however they want.
    My house is not inundated with countless different coloured bins. I have just 1 bin. My home is a recycle-free zone, happily.
    Unfortunately, when you walk around your town centres, you can find ample evidence of the current generation's approach to their surroundings/disposal of litter - wrappers for McDonalds, Burger King, KFC, Pizza boxes, Subway wrappers - strewn everywhere. Chewing gum stamped into the pavements, broken glass everywhere, dog mess all over the streets.
    This is just Britain as it is in 2010 - we have accepted it. Move on.

  • Comment number 24.

    Rubbish comes mostly from packaging. Reduce packaging or eliminate it.

  • Comment number 25.

    For a start stop all unsolicited mail, make essential packaging easily recyclable ensure manufacturers build in durability into their products.
    Stabilise our population and encourage a reduction, this would solve more problems than excessive waste

  • Comment number 26.

    Environment Minister, Caroline Spelman seeking a 'zero waste' economy?

    All human settlements - fixed or traveling create waste today and throughout history. Just ask any archeologist? There is no such thing as a 'zero waste' economy!

    It would be more helpful, if Minister Spelman, stopped the local authorities bin police attacking the elderly and vulnerable.

    Furthermore, Minister Spelman may have the funds to buy a wool or horsehair filled sofa or mattress - but the majority of us dont?!!!

    Get off your high, antique rocking horse?

  • Comment number 27.

    Introduce a way to force supermarkets to use less packaging, as well as making it out of sustainable material.

  • Comment number 28.

    Well it is all down to progress, health and safety, and sheer idleness. The packaging problem is exacerbated by supermarkets. Everything is pre-packed and tasteless. Compared to what we used to eat 40 years ago, we are now eating rubbish. We used to have proper shops, butchers, dairies, but no more. I can remember when I caught one of my neighbours exiting a well known supermarket back in the 70s. "Please don't tell anyone I was shopping here" she said. My school mate's father was one of their managers. His mother would not shop there.

  • Comment number 29.

    By definition, the things we throw away are the things we don't want. So if we didn't want it, why do companies and businesses insist on giving it to us? Packaging, junk mail, the list is endless...

    All junk mail should be returnable to the sender, at no cost. They'll soon stop sending it out if they get it all back.

    Shops that produce 'recycled' packaging should therefore take it back, or provide the recycle bins in the store, so we don't have to take it home with us.

    And councils shouldn't penalise us, the unwilling recipient of rubbish, but go after the producers of the rubbish instead.

  • Comment number 30.

    I bought a pair of scissors a few weeks ago that required scissors to get into! After laughing at the irony I preceded to bleed onto said package trying to remove the contents. This, clearly shows our insatiable need to waste at the determent even to the consumer!

  • Comment number 31.

    Reduce packaging - simple really.

    It also seems to amaze me that some people will complain about the amount of people clogging up this country (mainly immigrants in their opinion), yet do not seem to want to take responsibility for preventing the country becoming clogged with their rubbish.

  • Comment number 32.

    This will cause more fly-tipping. That grows as it gets harder to dispose of waste legally. If you want to be honest about getting rid of your TV or Bed, the council will charge you a fee and make you wait all day for when the lorry is free. Guess what people are doing instead?

    Second point, I like packaging. It keeps my food free of insects, protects my stereo on its journey from Vietnam, and increasingly embodies scientific advances, like stay fresh atmospheres. If greenies want their fruit stale and stereo all beat up, then fine. Just dont force it on me.

  • Comment number 33.

    1. Get manufacturers to reduce their packaging and make it more recyclable
    2. Regular bin collections and less picky binmen
    3. No more potty fines for 'putting it in the wrong bin'
    4. Reward successful recycling rather than punish mistakes

  • Comment number 34.

    Recycling (especially) paper is a con. It uses more energy than simply producing more paper, and reduces the number of trees. Waste of time.

  • Comment number 35.

    OMG here we go again with another so called green policy from another party that does not understand climate change, so i shall explain it for the hard of thinking.

    1, the climate is not and never has been static, it has always been changing.
    2, The cause of the majority of waste is excess packaging and non recyclable packaging, if we were to stop buying these goods jobs would be lost and the economy would be affected
    3 The unwanted mail we get with our names on it from insurance companies etc. comes from the fact that local authorities sell the electoral register to companies for mailshots.
    4 Lets not build or plan for the future lets just complain and moan about landfill, its a cop out. since 90% of the waste we put in our recyling bins is poured into landfill anyway because there are not the facilities available for them to be recycled.

    I live in Tamworth our recycle large blue bin is collected fortnightly, the household waste is collected fortnightly too and our borough stinks in the summer maggots are pouring out of the top of the bins, aparently the council are just following government policy on waste by making our lives a misery having to put up with the stink.

    If we stopped buying consumer goods can you imagine how many people would loose their jobs. There is no such thing as any zero waste economy simply because eat meat throw bones and the plastic it was wrapped in, eat fruit throw seeds and the plastic it was wrapped in. drink milk throw cartons or plastic bottles, this wasnt a problem when i was young as we recycled our milk bottles but the large superstores have successfully killed the milkman off.
    It is a myth that we are facing a climate disaster simply put man lives in the hottest parts and coldest of the planet we can adapt and survive the climate change panic mongers are preying on the paranoia of the uneducated.

  • Comment number 36.

    I agree with corum-populo @ 26.

    Any process we subject a substance to produces waste. If you want a 'zero-waste' society then you'd have to shut down all of our power stations for a start, so we can already see that this is another lame-duck initiative by a government that has no positive ideas and seems quite happy to employ consultants to run the country whilst they sit about slurping up their bowls of gravy.

    To bring waste down to more sustainable levels we would have to completely change our entire sytem of governance. Free-market capitalism RELIES on waste: it can't function without it. Just think about all the now discarded iphones, barely a couple of years old, but deemed unfashionable and technologically redundant. The same can be said for more or less all modern tech. If we didn't waste stuff then we would have no reason to buy nearly as much as we do and entire industries would cease to be profitable.

    Considering the fact that Gideon wants us to expand these same industries in order to get us out of the financial mess we're in , I don't have much hope of us reducing our amount of waste at all.

  • Comment number 37.

    Kick the arse lickers out of government and town halls and get people with ability to do the jobs.

  • Comment number 38.

    Impose a tax on supermarkets/producers who use excessive amounts of plastic on their products. Make the companies who produce packaging which is difficult to recycle or compost more responsible for disposing the waste. Have adequate rubbish bins in public, keep them empty and encourage people to use them. Involve local communities in helping keep their area clean, with the local companies leading the way.

  • Comment number 39.

    We do enough already. But getting rid of the con-dems would be a large bit of refuse, but dont recycle it!

  • Comment number 40.

    The government has to set an example, get what I mean.

  • Comment number 41.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 42.

    Ours is a family of four, with recycling everything that the council and local re-cycle centers will take away we put out one not-quite-full black bag per week ~ I would estimate that 75% of the contents is pastic packaging in various forms that no-one will take

    I did wonder last week, when watching 3x various sized vans complete with 2x staff each collecting the re-cycling stuff left outside, how can it possibly be cost effective?

    Is paper / plastic / etc really worth the £100s a week it must cost just to run each vehicle? (fuel, tax, maintainance, staff wages, etc.)

  • Comment number 43.

    How can we cut down on our rubbish? Simple, stop buying cheap, poor quality rubbish from china. Cheap seldom equates to the best value for money.

  • Comment number 44.

    Stop telling us what to do, please!
    I recycle and have for quite some time. My local waste collection is poor with bins rarely fully emptied. Most of my waste comes from
    Junk mail
    Parings off vegetables
    How do I reduce that?

  • Comment number 45.

    We can cut Council Tax bills and waste at a stroke by introducing legislation requiring the supermarkets to collect all refuse from homes.

    It seems a fair tax for creating such a problem and raking in so much of Britain's weekly income.

    They are the source of all excess packaging and I'm sure would find ways to do more with less if they had to foot the bill for dealing with it, and household bills would fall due to the shrinking of Council budgets and responsibilities.

  • Comment number 46.

    hmm, getting rid of 'snobbish' bin men or the rules that allow them not to take you rubbish/recycling - that may help.

    oh and get the scumbag chavs and ASBOs to sift it all - as Homer Simpson says on the same subject: "Can't someone else do it?"

  • Comment number 47.

    The only way to reduce the rubbish we produce, is to start at the beginning of the chain. The supermarkets and shops that provide us with our food and goods. Go to any supermarket and see for yourself.everything is wrapped in cling film packets of salard, boxes of this and that. all meat covered in wrapping. Fresh bread in cling flim. Why did we not have it when we were younger? All fruit and veg was brought loose and either put into paper bags or straight into a bag provided by the customer. Butchers that sold meat over the counter and wrapped in paper. We seem to want everything wrapped in plastic of some kind.
    But if this government wants to look at their offices ans see want waste they produce like the montains of paper and so on. We will never get to zero waste but we can try and reuse.

    The supermarkets should be made to stop this process, this in turn would stop a lot of rubbish. Fast food chains should be force to provide bins for their own rubbish and this packaging should be recycleable,

    Plastic bottle should be replaced by glass like milk,pop, beer and a deposti placed on the bottle. When it is empty you take it back to the shop for a refund. The bottles are then returned to the manufacture to use again.

    Our local council is great they have a recycle programme which is second to none. East Dorset council. Black bag for normal rubbish(wish it was a wheelie bin.) Weekly colls. Brown wheelie bin for all food waste, cardboard, green garden waste.Then green boxes for glass plastic tin and green bags for paper mags. These are collected fornightly. However there is still more the council could do like taking all plastic not only certain types.
    All councils should have door step collections and yes force people to recycle. but until the beginning of the chain sorts itself out we can only do a small amount.

  • Comment number 48.

    It'd probably help if the refuse collection men actually collected refuse! And if it was still collected weekly rather than fortnightly.

    I can obviously only speak for my area but the bin men round our way will not empty the bin if the wheelie bin lid is slightly ajar, because they say it is too full and its against health and safety for them to move a bin if the lid doesn't close completely. But if its not emptied then it gets fuller, and eventually the rubbish ends up at the side of the bin in the street... but they won't take rubbbish from the side of the bin, it has to be in the bin! Its the same with the recycling boxes. If the amount slightly exceeds the edge of the box it doesn't get touched. And so the never ending cycle continues.

    I personally don't have this problem as only 2 of us live in my household and a fortnightly collection is sufficient, but for the larger households of families with children its just not adequate. And for as long as I can remember, our estate has been lined with rubbish bags that the bin men refuse to take. It is a council estate whereby people inhabiting these homes are on a low income and do not have their own transport to take it to a waste site themselves.

    Fewer wheelie bins will definitely not help my area.

  • Comment number 49.

    The only "Zero Waste" economy will be when everything is available without delivery. That means the invention of Energy-Matter conversion machines, like star trek Replicators.

  • Comment number 50.

    reduce the number of parliamentry seats

  • Comment number 51.

    What a stupid question. what is the point of asking a question we ALL know the answer to. advise supermarkets to sell paper carrier bags if chip shops can do it so can tescos. get supermarkets to get producers to package there produce in less packaging. are they selling food or cardboard it all has to be paid for. Stop burger and chicken bars from selling plastic packaging with their products. years ago we bought a burger and we got a paper serviette now its a plastic foam box in a plastic carrier bag. No point in fining these big conglomerates they just pay the fine and carry on as normal. if you want to save waste blame the companies not look at ways you can blame the customer for trying to dispose of the initial waste. as in most things today look at the cause not the remedy without the cause you dont need a remedy.

  • Comment number 52.

    90% of my rubbish is from supermarkets, make them recycle they own rubbish I.E. give they customers 20% discount, off they next shopping bill, for return of they rubbish!!!! they have plenty of room for this at most out of town super-markets, and make them compost the food waste on site. No more city centre eyesore in the U.K. This will save 20% of my council tax bill

  • Comment number 53.

    I agree with government proposals to cut waste, however, they are targetting the wrong part of the chain. Its all too easy to target and place the responsibility for disposal of waste on the householder when the amount of waste they have to dispose of largely depends on how much packaging the producers place around their products and whether that packaging is bio-degradeable. That is not in the hands of the householder but we are being asked to pay for the subsequent disposal of it. So, I ask the question of the government - how much opressure are you putting on producers and suppliers to cut down on packaging and make as much as possible easily bio-degradeable? The other question I have for the government is how much pressure are you puttin on supermarkets and other shops to provide us, their customers, with easily bio-degradeable paper bags which could presumable be made from recycled material?

  • Comment number 54.

    Companies should be made more responsible for the packaging they create.....and stop putting the onus of absolutely everything onto Jo Public....there's only so much we can do from our side....

  • Comment number 55.

    I feel the way forward on this issue is to address the matter at source e.g. supermarket packaging. I do recycle everything as best I can because it is important. We only have one world so should look after it.

  • Comment number 56.

    There are more important things going on than another pointless initiative into recycling. I appreciate that it will muddy the waters for other issues, hide stuff behind the rhetoric, but the government is the biggest waster of all. Councils next. Letting these bureaucratic monoliths rewrite the waste rules will end up in bigger than already. They wrote the last lot and can not agree with each other. No two councils have the same policy. This is megalomania gone mad! Centralise. This is the policy, you will do this or you are sacked CEO! Problem solved. There will be more meeting about this and working groups, job and finish groups and strategic policy groups than all the recycling in the world could ever recover the carbon footprint of!
    Come on Camers and Cleggweggy be decisive – do something, make a decision and tell someone to achieve something – please!

  • Comment number 57.

    First and foremost it would be useful to get ALL local authorities to sing from the same song sheet.Its a scandal that some councils cant recycle certain items IE glass in our area but expect everyone to physically take our glass many miles to a "centre" and even then in a great many councils they just tip it in with the rest of the rubbish.Its also not helpful that retailers sell items with packing that can make up as much as twice the weight of the item they are selling.I get fed up with being blamed for not recycling enough only to find the local authority puts obstacles in the way to actually achieving a higher level.Every household should be paid to recycle the items of real value-which is skimmed off by councils and still our taxes go up each year.Its not the household that should be trying more its the councils.

  • Comment number 58.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 59.

    It is without doubt the big stores and supermarkets that contribute 80% of our rubbish.Why should 4 apples be wrapped twice in packaging. they say thats what the customer wants.I don't, and millions of others don't. The government should take action against unnecessary packaging by the big stores, if they do they can cut the waste in half.

  • Comment number 60.

    Firstly, it's YOUR waste. If it's overwrapped then leave the waste at the point of sale with the cashier.

    Secondly, it's not too much to ask for us all to source-separate into 2 streams:

    A/ All the organic waste stuff like carrot and potato peelings should be made available for the council to take away to the anearobic digester units that they should have to give us Green energy and free fertiliser, and,

    B/ All the rest of your waste to be sorted by the council at leisure since it's not dangerous [in terms of nuisance and free methane production].

    Councils: You should bang on the government's eardrums for your own anaerobic digesters. They have already indicated that they are serious about them [and about time too!]. Take the example of Sweden and Denmark.

    In A/, should you deliver good quality organic waste [without plastic, etc.] then you should be paid for delivering what is essentially fuel to the anaerobic digesters which is the carrot, and if you can't be bothered to sort it properly, you should be made to pay handsomely for someone else to do it which is the stick.

    How simple is that?


    Now can we get on with sorting the Fractional Reserve Banking System out and finding out what really happened on 9-11?

  • Comment number 61.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 62.

    Like everything else it is scaremongering before they tax it!!! They have taxed everything else to death and are now moving on to another necessity. Everybody needs to get rid of their rubbish and the Government knows this, so they will tax you for it, not because of global issues like they say but because they need more income plain and simple.

  • Comment number 63.

    "55. At 3:45pm on 29 Jul 2010, Jack Hargreaves wrote:
    I feel the way forward on this issue is to address the matter at source e.g. supermarket packaging. I do recycle everything as best I can because it is important. We only have one world so should look after it."

    That'd be admirable if it was true. Recycling paper and plastic is neither good for the environment, nor cost effective.

  • Comment number 64.

    Instead of handing out ASBOs they could hand out rubbish duty. I'd like to see feral youths in back gardens sorting through other peoples rubbish - preferably with their teeth. They can lick the pavement clean afterwards.

  • Comment number 65.

    I agree with #15 The Ghosts of John Galt.

    Just let households put all their rubbish in one large wheelie bin and employ people, or use technology, at the other end to sort it all out into it's various component parts.

  • Comment number 66.

    Cutting down on packaging that either can't be recycled or that my local council say cannot be recycled.

    My council do not take shredded paper, polystyrene and have only just started accepting carboard and plastic together (we were not allowed to recycle envelopes with plastic windows or cartons with plastic openings)

    This is a lot of waste and for some reason different councils recycle in different ways - if everyone did the same and tried to recycle everything we would have a lot less waste.

  • Comment number 67.

    Easy. Reduce the 67 millions of us chucking stuff away. The alternative, a "sustainable" world chucks everything away every 12 months and has a new one. The latest fashion in whatever comes changes and we chuck the last fashion before buying the new. If we don't chuck it away everything made is so tacky it breaks and we have to have a new one. Nothing is made to last or be mended its not "sustainable" chuck it away & buy another. We are now chucking 1000,s of TV's etc becuase we "Have" to go digital, why? Often elaborate packaging is there for the suppliers convenience not the customers or anyone else. We just pay for it to chuck it. The why? of this is to make the money stay in the money go round.
    Don't keep prattling on about waste when its all lip service and we intend doing nothing about it. The Economy cant afford to. I won,t even go into perishable foodstuffs brought half round the world on a jumbo jet using 1,000's of gallons of kerosene for half of it to be dumped in skips behind Tescos or Sainsburys days later.

  • Comment number 68.

    Any time soon it will be so difficult and costly to properly dispose of rubbish the countryside will be again up to its armpits in rubbish as it was pre 1980's. The Civic Amenities Act stopped that overnight. Trouble is we forgot what the Civic Amenities Act was enabled for now there is no rubbish dumped everywhere for a couple of decades. Change for its own sake as usual.

  • Comment number 69.

    We've changed the way we live, so as usual its not simply a question of "do this, ban that" but to make quite fundamental changes in lifestyle.

    The first concerns that fact that we have much more stuff delivered these days. More online/phone purchases. Buying more big things that way. All of the companies that send this stuff are liable if it gets to the other end damaged and indeed they have to pack it so it can come back to them safely as well because they are mostly subject to distance selling regulations giving the right to return. Frankly you'll never get the volume of packaging down much whilst people buy for home delivery. Any volunteers within the government for the task of persuading folks to buy from the reducing, difficult to park near, relatively expensive retail channel today?

    Second we buy and the supermarkets sell fresh food differently. In our household we eat a lot of fruit. It all comes prepacked to preserve its quality. I have zero interest in buying melons, mangos etc as whole fruit, or berries from a big box. I want dated portioned packs that we can get them home undamaged and just take a pack out of the fridge as we want it. I'm not sure that the government will succeed in persuading us back to standalone butchers and greengrocers now, even if they were still there to back to.

    Third on balance we are more affluent and big things are relatively cheap. We replace tvs, cameras etc more easily and we now buy computers , cellphones, games machines and so on that are available just in the last decade or two. All these electronics come with a vast amount of packaging.

    I think that its going to be very difficult to mandate less packaging given how we buy, what we buy and how we use material now. I think the government if they want to improve things needs to look at the downstream collection and processing.

    We recycle just about everything we can and separate out garden waste and pay separately for its collection. So three bins and thats enough for anyone I think. I don't think we'd be up for more sorting or more bins, especially if it increased the amount of handling of yucky waste.

    Every time we take things to the tip - several times a year- we're irritated by the fact that there are several people being paid to do little but police customers putting rubbish in the right bin. I guess we take a different perspective- either go back to the much lower staffing levels we recall, or if the councils can afford it then get these staff to sort the stuff if they want it sorted.

  • Comment number 70.

    The BBC has reported previously on the charity FareShare which redistributes surplus food to people in need instead of seeing it sent to landfill. This approach reduces waste and tackles food poverty at the same time.

  • Comment number 71.

    Something_Fishy_about_9_11 wrote:

    Now can we get on with sorting the Fractional Reserve Banking System out and finding out what really happened on 9-11?


    Al quaeda (probably spelt wrong) hijacked a plane and crashed into the World trade centre. Why what do you think happened? I thought it was fairly well known what happened? I'm sensing some kind of conspiracy theory here - I'm genuinely interested/curious what you think happened.

  • Comment number 72.

    The problem needs to be solved at the point of production. Since the vast majority of waste is produced by packaging, there is a simple solution. Return all packaging to the Supermarket you purchased the goods from. The same principle as the Waste Electrical Goods: the polluter pays. The overwhelming majority of people want the goods not the packaging. So, returning the packaging to the supermarket gives a clear market signal that the waste is not wanted.

    This would cut down on council tax as well - as there would be less domestic waste for the council to collect. The simple truth is, most waste is produced by people who are never faced with the responsibility of cleaning up their own mess. Given the gross tonnage of supermarket waste produced each week, the supermarkets would need to solve the problem very rapidly or run out of space to store the rubbish.

    Perhaps ASBO's could be used to discipline any company owning a logo that turns up in litter and landfill. It only takes a little bit of creativity to realise all the mechanisms exist, they just need the will of local councils and consumers to actually exercise them.

  • Comment number 73.

    I recently bought a new TV and being responsible i stood at the checkout removed my tvset from all the packaging said "thank you very much" and went to leave the store, the member of staff was horrified and told me i cant leave the rubbish their, i replied" i did" and left the store.

  • Comment number 74.

    Has anyone suggested closing Have Your Say?
    The huge majority of responses are rubbish.
    OK. Mine too.

  • Comment number 75.

    I agree that the output of rubbish should be reduced.

    So maybe, if we were to match our personal outputs with the rubbish generated on a daily basis by our politicians, we'd find that our output was quite modest in comparison!

  • Comment number 76.

    we have a recycling service here, but my view is that if I got use my time to wash out tins and bottles, and separate the rubbish, then I should get a discount on my council tax, but I don't, instead it keeps going up So I don't recycle.

  • Comment number 77.

    I used to be careful with my rubbish.

    I used to have a box down the bottom of the garden that had nothing but glass in it. Mainly broken drinking glasses and broken greenhouse glass. I saved it for years until the box was full.

    At the local 'recycling' centre, I was told to throw it all in the general landfill skip.

    I am no longer careful with my rubbish. Burn the lot of it I say.

  • Comment number 78.

    The government wants to cut down on the amount of rubbish we produce in England. How can this be achieved?

    Change the manager, and stop paying players too much money!!!

  • Comment number 79.

    How about banning xmas, which is the BIGGEST singular day of contribution to ALL economic/social WASTE/RUBBISH.

  • Comment number 80.

    The amount of packaging enclosing many goods we buy should be called into question. Granted there are circumstances when this is necessary, but many items of food, for example, do not need to be wrapped in packaging to the extent that exists today.

  • Comment number 81.

    How can we cut down on our rubbish?

    Get rid of the House of Lords...!!

    I jest.... or do I?

  • Comment number 82.

    Rubbish is actually VERY VERY MINOR.

    The TRUTH and FACT of the matter is that it is the PROCESSES and SYSTEMS which are TOTALLY RUBBISH in their ability to segregate that which can simply be recycled.

    This is reinforced by RUBBISH politicians who RUBBISHLY FAIL to implement realistic and relative recycling policys.

    Everyone has a duty to do their part, individuals, businesses, retailers, product designers etc but the PLAIN reality is that there is soooooooooooooooooooo much which is ALREADY designed to be recycled but which is NOT, because the relevent systems are NOT in place.

    Excuses of cost are often used to negate whats fundamentally RIGHT.

    Look, at the end of the day, just put a minimal/small re-cycling cost on items, and then use the money to set up recycling centres for criminals to carry out community service, or attatch such centres to prisons.

    SIMPLES.......... even a meerkat could do that........ so why not politicians......!!!

  • Comment number 83.

    I grow most of my own food in the garden and at my allotment; the only packaging it requires is the couple of hemp bags I use to carry the finished crop back to the house.
    Most of the food I buy comes from our local farmers through a local organic delivery scheme; the meat comes wrapped in paper and the fruit & veg comes in paper bags. All of this paper gets shredded and put onto the compost heap.

    Not only does this cut down on packaging it is also far cheaper than buying food from the supermarket. The only down side is that I now stick to seasonal food (unless I can grow it in a poly-tunnel all year round) rather than eating food that has been imported from the other side of the world where it is in season.

    I appreciate that as a retired man that I have far more free time than those who are working full time, especially couples who both work full time, but there is no reason people can't grow some of their own food at home. It tastes nicer than anything you'll ever buy from a shop !

    For those who like eggs:
    Chickens can be got for free from the British Hen Welfare Trust and after a few weeks of care and attention they'll start re-growing their feathers and laying eggs again. Chicken feed costs very little and a chicken coup is easy to build, you can even get designs from the net.

    British Hen Welfare Trust

  • Comment number 84.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 85.

    Do you agree with government proposals to cut waste?
    Are we talking about the public sector? Oh of course not - this is the BBC......just a little joke......

    Can someone explain why there is such a thing called a landfill tax, which arises from EU legislation/directives?
    Whether UK rubbish dumps are good or bad what business is it of anyone else outside the UK?
    Moving on, I hope someone is doing good robust energy calculations on this. What is the energy cost of recycling? Would it indeed be better to burn waste as no 8 says e.g. in a Combined Heat and Power system? BTW such calculations show up Biofuels for the con trick they really are.
    But reducing the amount of packaging must be a top priority. Plastic bags at the supermarket are the least of the problem - they tend to get reused and the actual weight of them is minimal. But the thick guage plastic at the DIY shop that 'protects' a roll of sticky tape or a few screws - ditto electrical goods - that is obscene.
    Our council only recycle plastic bottles and not other plastics - that makes me annoyed as we would recycle more given the chance.
    When we holidayed in France we had three very small wheelie bins but they had a collection of something every night (note - not in the morning rush hour as where we live in the UK) so you more-or-less just put out any bin when it was full. There were almost no restrictions on what could be recycled so the actual amount of landfill was really small.

    On Finn Air they even recycle stuff from the plastic in-flight food trays.

  • Comment number 86.

    Nearly every day I return home from work to find one if not two free newpapers on my door mat, accompanied by several pieces of junk mail (despite there being a sign on the door requesting 'NO JUNK MAIL'. The papers and junk mail are picked up unread and dumped in the recycling bin.

    I recycle as much as I can, but if your council does not take all types of packaging for recycling what more you do?

    Governments should be taxing industries who a. use excessive and unnecessary packaging and b. wish to use unsolicited junk mail as part of their marketing campaigns.

    Why is it always the consumers fault?

    I don't care what the products I buy come packaged in, and if they can be recycled I will do so.

  • Comment number 87.

    55. At 3:45pm on 29 Jul 2010, Jack Hargreaves wrote:
    I feel the way forward on this issue is to address the matter at source e.g. supermarket packaging. I do recycle everything as best I can because it is important. We only have one world so should look after it.


    I throw rubbish into three different bins because the council requires me to, not because I think it's doing the planet any good.

    The planet is quite capable of looking after itself, it's managed well enough for billions of years, and I really don't think my green wheelie bin full of grass clippings and veg peelings is going to make the slightest bit of difference one way or the other.

    I'm not terribly bothered whether we reduce our rubbish or not, but if Caroline Spelman wants it reduced she should tell the Chief Execs of all the supermarkets, in words of one syllable, to sort out their in-store packaging.

    It won't make any long-term difference to the planet at all, but at least it'll give people the impression that they're doing some good by throwing away less.

  • Comment number 88.

    Second we buy and the supermarkets sell fresh food differently. In our household we eat a lot of fruit. It all comes prepacked to preserve its quality. I have zero interest in buying melons, mangos etc as whole fruit, or berries from a big box. I want dated portioned packs that we can get them home undamaged and just take a pack out of the fridge as we want it. I'm not sure that the government will succeed in persuading us back to standalone butchers and greengrocers now, even if they were still there to back to.
    What a perfect world you live in. Are your bananas straight all exactly 20cm long. Your apples a perfect sphere and all the same hue of red? Do you like your avacadro while still like cannonballs?
    We mostly shop at local farm shops being in a fruit & veg producing region of the country. Its usually 50 -60% cheaper than Supermarket produce (even locally sourced) Try it sometime. Take your own box or bag. I bet you forgot what a real carrot or plum is supposed to taste like. Try not to worry too much about the little blemish or mark or mis-shapen ones, they wont do you any harm. Neither will the dirt on the potatoes, it washes off. Give a real butcher a try while your at it. Locally produced meat actually tastes of what it came from. You wont need a label to know if its pork or chicken.

  • Comment number 89.

    The same principle as the Waste Electrical Goods: the polluter pays. The overwhelming majority of people want the goods not the packaging. So, returning the packaging to the supermarket gives a clear market signal that the waste is not wanted.
    A good idea! In mainland Europe you pay what they call a disposal tax when you buy a TV or a car etc. The item is them properly disposed of when you take it along to a disposal centre or have it collected. The cost already covered. If we did it here of course the Government of the day would steal the tax for disposal for some "pet" social scheme or something because nothing is ringfenced. Then there would be no money in the pot to get stuff disposed of and situation normal they would initiate another charge when we took it to the tip. They think we would have forgot !! Wonder they havent plugged into that before now. Not even Gordon Brown thought of that one !!

  • Comment number 90.

    Less packaging would kick the move off nicely.
    Then simpler recycling choices and opportunities would help keep the ball rolling.
    Small rewards such as refunds for re-use of bags or return of re-usable packaging would further help.
    Fine litter-droppers and fly-tippers more heavily to discourage the anti-social aspects.
    Use criminals and/or the unemployed to sort difficult to handle rubbish like mixed paper or plastics (nothing hazardous) to save costs, use human effort constructively and let them, especially the first lot, prove that they can be socially responsible.

    All simple and easy solutions or part solutions.

    None will be implimented of course, a new "green" tax (aka just another tax) will be imposed on the consumer and the money will disappear off into the benefits system black hole.

  • Comment number 91.

    Please fine the stores producing all the over-packaging that cannot be recycled, and which goes into our bins for landfill - and fine them heavily. I should think the fines produced might even help to cut down on the national debt - you never know!

  • Comment number 92.

    Make all large shops, particularly supermarkets provide a skip on site where customers can dispose of all packaging including cardboard, plastic bottles, plastic bags foam packing etc for items purchased in the store. It would then be up to the shop to dispose of these things in the most cost effective way (with environmental costs fully factored in).

  • Comment number 93.

    The government should prosecute companies that use wasteful packaging, instead of blaming us - the consumers - for wasting so much.

  • Comment number 94.

    God, this is so simple. The government just tells companies to cut down on the packaging, simples.

    Or the shops have mandartory recycling bins inside the store so once paid for we rip off the packaging and let them deal with it.

  • Comment number 95.

    Packaging packaging packaging!!! My career in that industry started before waste was such an issue but I'm 'sadly happy' to say it's pathetic to see the lip-service-only attention that supermarkets in today's world pay to reducing packaging waste. For example, the great check-out bag-management debate is pretty pointless against the orgy of product-marketing-led superflous packaging that haunts us all year round, only to climax at Xmas.

    Whatever your views on this subject you can do something by simply REFUSING TO FUND AVOIDABLE PACKAGING!!! DON'T BUY THE PRODUCT!!! Why pay for it when disposing of it just becomes your next problem???

  • Comment number 96.

    How does Cameron and Clegg manage it do they sort all the waste and take it to the right sites and do they shop at supermarkets which make so much waste how about giving goods away to the homeless and those who will take them why do we have to have new this and that like buy a television and by the time you get it home its out of date mobile phones another thing that has to be changed paper bags not plastic take the plastic off food and have people serving people cars that are made of real metal not what they are made off but its food make it cheap and end the three for two so people will not buy to much stuff in fact stop supermarkets being built would help enough of this advertising so that people feel if they do not have what ever they are missing out make houses large enough to live in so that people do not have to move to get more room if they have another baby or god forbid they have an older person living with them. And stop selling the 1940s as the golden age it was not and people were not happy but dumb and tired and war weary.

    Sort the packing out to much packing for to little we pay mostly for the packing.

  • Comment number 97.

    82. At 4:51pm on 29 Jul 2010, MrWonderfulReality wrote:
    "This is reinforced by RUBBISH politicians who RUBBISHLY FAIL to implement realistic and relative recycling policys."
    Are these the same ones who tell our "spys" what to do?

    Recycling "policys" are realistic enough. It's the people who aren't. They believe this level of personal responsibility should not apply to them.

    I think personal responsibility "applys" to everyone. Even the oiks I share a work kitchen with. They will -- I kid you not -- put a tin in the rubbish bin when there is a recycling bin for tins right next to it.


    It's totally inexcusable. Like just adding "s" to words like "policy". Why do I say this? Because a 10-year-old can get this things right: adults have no excuse at all. None.

  • Comment number 98.

    Call a General Election ASAP Cameron, and then we can get rid of a load of rubbish.

  • Comment number 99.

    Most of it is plastic containers and packaging of one sort or another. Burns well on a garden fire and with luck it will contribute to global warming which will reduce my fuel bills come the cold winters.

  • Comment number 100.

    As previous contributors have said, packaging contributes to the majority of our rubbish. The majority of the culprits are the supermarkets and other retailers who insist we, the customers demand everthing is over packaged. That's a downright lie! One of the biggest, (the one with the orange carrier bags and the oldest of the high street supermarket chains), claims 90% or more of it's packaging is recyclable. But that includes the cardboard packaging they use to deliver to their stores and this goes back for recycling. Many of their own brand foodstuffs still use non recyclable plastics despite adequate alternatives being available. But the fact remains that they still insist on selling 3 onions or 2 courgettes, or two pears etc in plastic trays, wrapped in plastic bags on the premise that we the consumer want it. WE DON'T!
    We have the most basic of disposable goods packaged in laminated cardboard which makes recycling impossible. Why does a sealed bottle of perfume/scotch/electric drill/door lock/gift wrap etc etc need laminated cardboard? The manufacturers will tell you because it makes the product look classier because the carboard has a uniform sheen! The manufacturers need to be told this isn't good environmentally or even necessary and should be stopped.
    Can ANYONE explain to me why plant pots sold by DIY stores and garden centres alike have the recycling logo on the bottom (usually 5 and/or PP for polypropelene) yet no waste recycling centre will take them, even if you scrub them to look like new?
    And probably the most important resource that should be managed better is water. In many countries now, grey water recycling is mandatory yet as far as I am aware there is no legislation in the UK. Grey water recycling takes our bath and sink water and filter it before storing it for flushing the toilet. It is obscene that we use purified drinking water to flush the loo!
    A TV advert a few evenings ago showed a man claiming he wants to change his mobile every year! But the rapid change in technology means we are often bombarded with a newer, and "better" TV/phone/video/games machine etc than we bought only two years ago and try to persuade us to buy this new technology as a market guinea pig for their research.
    It can be different. All drinks bottles are now made from recyclable plastic and are widely converted into fleeces and industrial insulation etc.
    Unless we all want a landfill site at the bottom of our street, it must be stopped - it isn't even necessary! And with a complete lack of pride in our neighbourhoods, many simply throw their rubbish on the ground outside someone elses house, or in the park or out of the car window.


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