In Glasgow only 26.8 % of all waste is recycled, the remaining 73.2 % are processed in an industrial sorting plant, which one wishes divides glass from metal, paper from plastics. In fact, the remaining 73.2% go straight to landfill.
The Scottish government has ambitious targets to recycle 50% of all municipal waste by by 2013. But looking at today’s figures, this seems just too far off. We, the young people seem to have no influence on policy and if you dare to attend a community council meeting, (which is a local meeting of people who claim to care about peoples opinions) you are lucky if you don’t die of boredom! So what to do with a motivated young, active Green community? Simple, go and recycle.
Students and young people often struggle to get to the end of a month without having to cut back on essential such as beer and pizza. To tackle this trend we found a way to combine recycling and saving some money: we go “skipping/dumpster diving”. The concept is simple, go to the bin of a supermarket after it has shut its doors and jump into their bin. It might sound ridiculous and dirty but the reality is that half of my shopping these days in done in the bin. This so called ‘waste’ contains sometime very valuable things, ranging from a beef roast to endless packages of a well known cornflakes manufacturer which starts with K. Most of it is not dirty or filthy, its simply out of date or doesn’t look pretty anymore. But here comes the catch, most people agree that it is a waste of waste and a slap in the face for everyone who is fighting to eradicate poverty, malnutrition and simply helping those in need. How can we throw away so much food commercially, not recycling it and claim there is not enough food to feed the world? It is a contradiction which cries out for a change.
There are two sides to this problem, the consumer who has the choice and the producer who provides the choice. The consumer cannot solve the problem by consuming differently, all supermarkets overbuy products and create avoidable food waste. The change needs to be at the other end.
Currently for one tonne of food waste, the industry has to pay £ 64 ‘landfill tax’ which creates no real incentive to reduce waste/overbuying food.A tax which would make it more expensive for supermarkets to overbuy is what we need. This tax could be designed to charge the exact retail price of a product to a company if they have to throw it away. Of course there is the argument that food will become more expensive and that the most vulnerable in society will lose out. The truth is, I have never EVER found or seen own-brand goods in any retailers bin, but a lot of meat, branded sweets, cornflakes and cakes. However this tax or alternative solution might look like, it needs to change as it is a grotesque injustice which can only be tackled with a responsible response from the government.