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Posts Tagged ‘Recycling

Greenest Chelsea Yet

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It’s that time again, and the Chelsea Flower Show, “the ultimate event in the gardening year”, is in full swing. The show, flagship event of the Royal Horticultural Society, is being loudly promoted as the ‘greenest’ ever. Mind you, they seem to say that every year. They’re certainly placing a great deal of emphasis on things like recycling, reuse and waste avoidance, with exhibitors incorporating rainwater collection, solar power and permeable paving in their projects. The RHS itself has laid down strict environmental guidelines:

  • All wood products on sale must be from sustainable sources
  • Patio heaters have been banned
  • Glass and plastic in restaurants and food outlets must be recycled, along with at least half the carpet used at the show
  • The use of peat has been banned

Show organiser Bob Sweet, who has taken to carrying a camera around the displays with him so he can photograph what is being thrown into skips, said there was a much greater focus on environmental concerns this year. For the first time exhibitors have been asked to list where their plants had come from, in order to ensure ethical sourcing.

Traditionally, plants from the exhibits and show gardens have always been sold off at the end, often at knockdown prices, but this idea is being extended this year. Community gardens, city farms, school gardens and allotments associations could get their hands on free plants and materials, thanks to a scheme set up by Good Gifts, the ethical gifts catalogue. The company has recently negotiated with the RHS to run a recycling depot for gardens at the show, and expects items like plants, turf, bricks, stone, paving, breeze blocks, plant pots and timber to be available.

The RHS has responded to the challenge of eliminating the use of plastic bags by replacing them at this year’s Chelsea Flower Show with eco-friendly fully-compostible carriers made with GM-free non-food grade corn starch. 350,000 bags, supplied by small family-owned company Ecosac in Shropshire, will be distributed to visitors throughout the five day event. One does wonder exactly how many of those bags will be composted.

All very commendable, but why has it taken so long to get this far? I know gardeners tend to be traditional types, especially the stuffed shirts and blazers that run the RHS, but really!

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Written by Pete Smith

May 22, 2008 at 12:23 pm

Moan Of The Month

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Recycling crops up quite regularly as a moan topic. Here in the London Borough of Bromley, cultural heartland of the People’s Republic of Suburbia, subtle changes are being made to our recycling regime. We’ve got used to a system whereby paper and cardboard go in one box, cans and plastic in another, glass in a third. We’re now being told that we no longer have to separate glass, cans and plastic, it all goes in one big lump to the recycling facility. We don’t need to worry our little heads about the whys and wherefores.

The latest edition of Bromley’s newsletter ‘Waste and Recycling News‘ has some interesting insights into the Borough’s recycling processes. Under the heading ‘Tackling Climate Change’ we’re told:

“The more we recycle, the less is sent to landfill and the smaller our carbon footprint becomes. But recycling reduces our carbon emissions in other ways. For instance, it takes less energy to make goods out of recycled material. This is especially true for glass bottles made from used glass bottles”

However, in the adjacent article ‘Getting Things Sorted’ we’re told:

“The glass is sent for processing into aggregate substitute (for things like bedding-in paving)”

The truth is that Bromley doesn’t give a monkey’s what happens to our rubbish so long as it doesn’t end up in landfill. The Borough is less than forthright about why things work as they do. It portrays the new ‘all in one box’ system as quick and convenient, implying that it’s doing us a favour by introducing it. In reality, the change has been driven by the new processes at Veolia’s recently-upgraded £1m sorting facility at Rainham, Essex. Bromley presents glass recycling as a theoretically endless process that saves energy to combat climate change, but in fact our glass is reused just the once, as a building material. It may not be landfill, but motorway foundations come pretty close.

As the customer, Bromley has no say in how its waste is recycled. Nor, apparently, does it have much interest.

Written by Pete Smith

April 23, 2008 at 3:15 pm