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A visit to a recycling plant

George PenderGeorge Pender, a PhD student in Physics at University College London has been on a tour of the rubbish and recycling processing centre. He liked what he saw

The recycling issue is almost invariably presented in one of two ways, the Green Party versus Jeremy Clarkson dichotomy.  A noble sacrifice, or a waste of time, money and energy, with costs outweighing benefits. The pressing need being to suppress any irritation at the six different waste sorting categories and a fear that Councils pay extra to get rid of recycled material.

Hammersmith and Fulham jointly runs a recycling plant in Smugglers way, just west of Wandsworth Bridge, on the South Bank (of the Thames. Yes, sorry, London reporting bias!) other Boroughs (e.g. Westminster) simply purchase waste disposal services from the facility.

This is a combined recycling centre so householders only have to sort waste into two categories “black bag” and “recycling”.

The facility itself is an immense, impressive, industrial outfit. The processing and sorting includes everything from the High Tech, to the Low Tech to the Human. Plastic “recycling bags” are picked out by hand as a belt zooms past at twenty feet per second, while steep conveyers made from spinning brushes sort light material from heavy.  Infra-red scanners control jets of compressed air, individually sorting the various items.

However, I digress, the details of industrial processes should not be our main focus.  Readers do not want to hear about five meter wide manual operated garbage grabbers, or the intricacies of the glass-trapping operation.

The bottom line is that, for a pound of taxpayers money, the facility will take forty kilograms of recyclable material, but only seven kilos of black bag waste.  All the bailed up and sorted material is sold on (with the exception of mixed plastics, which is given away for free) so it’s not laundered into landfill or similar.

Recycling in my borough makes both commercial and environmental sense.

Now give me one of those orange sacks.


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