Sept 2018 - Stop OCC wasting £3m each year

Published by Charlbury Chronicle September 2018

That’s what the County Council has to pay because half of what’s thrown away in the light grey bins could be recycled using currently available systems. Half of this is food waste, the other half is paper, card, tins, etc - so that’s £3m the County Council can’t spend on services like social care.

Oxfordshire used to have the best recycling rate in the UK but this has declined, maybe complacency, maybe a new generation of householders – apparently, the most disengaged age group is 18-24. But we do generate the least waste per person than any other County Council, so that’s something we can be proud of - we must be making good purchasing decisions. Look at the WODC website for their A-Z of what can be recycled where and the residual waste you have to put in your light grey bin for incineration (

The outcry about plastics in the oceans shows how important public opinion is in making change happen, it shows there’s a huge will to make things better for the planet. In Oxfordshire, everything in the light grey bins is incinerated, there’s no chance this waste ends up in the oceans. So the scale of the problem in the UK is very different to the countries around the world that use rivers as rubbish dumps, 8 of the worst 10 rivers are in Asia. However, there is a problem in the UK with people putting things down drains and toilets that can end up in our rivers when sewage works overflow. Wet wipes don’t break down but people flush them “away” down the loo – wet wipes make up 80% of the fatbergs blocking the sewers in London. Until construction of the super-sewer in London is completed in 2023, lots of raw sewage and plastics from people in London regularly overflows into the Thames. Follow advice from Thames Water: “Bin it – don’t block it”, sewers are only designed to take water from your toilets, sinks, baths and showers along with human waste and toilet tissue - everything else should be put in the appropriate bin. Food should be put in the food waste bin, not down the drain, and cooking oils should be poured back into plastic bottles and left beside the food waste bin.

Then there’s the huge problem only just beginning to be understood - all over the world, microfibres from washing clothes made of synthetic materials end up in rivers and oceans – estimated at 10% of plastic pollution. Natural fibres, such as cotton and wool, decompose safely, so your choice of material when buying clothes is really important. Also the frequency of washing clothes - maybe they don’t have to be washed so often?

People obviously care very much about this planet, but there are multiple problems for marine life besides plastics - raised ocean temperature, acidity of sea water, death of coral reefs, tourist resorts, over-fishing, turning fish into fishmeal for salmon farming, exploitation of krill for omega-3 supplements, sea birds not finding enough fish to feed their young. So there are far more opportunities to help marine life - for starters, anything to reduce climate change will help and help people, plants and animals all over the planet. Unfortunately, reduction of energy use brought about by more efficient equipment has been outweighed by increases in emissions from the transport sector – we are flying more. In terms of waste, Councils have noticed a reduction in the amount of paper collected as newspaper use declines, but an increase in cardboard associated with ordering online. In short, everything we do has consequences, our simple decisions, like where we go on holiday, what clothes we buy, what food we eat, how often we upgrade mobile phones, laptops, TVs, all contribute to large problems on the world scale.

Charlbury Green Hub