June 2nd, 2017

Myth takes: it’s greener to incinerate paper than recycle it

by Peter Jones

 

When people want to argue that this whole recycling lark has gone a bit too far, they often regurgitate a peculiar factoid: that, on a careful analysis of the pros and cons, incinerating waste paper and card to generate energy has greater environmental benefits than recycling it.

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May 5th, 2017

Grounds for concern: the problem of coffee capsules

by Mark Hilton and Daniel Card

 

With an estimated two billion cups consumed every day, coffee is one of the world’s most popular drinks and has been the fuel for countless projects, essays – and Isonomia blogs. In the UK, the average person consumes 1.7kg of coffee per year. This is less than residents of many of our European neighbours, but still equates daily nationwide consumption of some 70 million cups, with spending in coffee shops now exceeding £3bn per year.

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April 28th, 2017

Myth takes – “Separate streams need separate containers”

by Peter Jones

 

One of the recurring claims in the tabloid press coverage of waste and recycling issues is that if local authorities collect more separate streams of recycling, it means householders having to separate each waste stream into a different container. The view in the popular press is typically that, if householders have to do more source separation it will result in dissatisfaction, confusion, and more contaminated recycling. It’s a view that has little basis in reality.

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April 21st, 2017

Waste to wealth in Uganda

by George Cole

 

At home in the UK, I’m used to the council regularly collecting my household waste from the street outside my door. Missing a waste collection is a little inconvenient. You have to keep the waste until the next collection day, by which time you might have more waste than you can fit in your boxes and bins.

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February 3rd, 2017

Down on recycling: England’s recycling rate

by Peter Jones

 

The recent downtick in England’s household recycling rate has led to wailing and gnashing of teeth in some quarters, and something more like gloating in others. However, there has been little examination of what the numbers tell us about what underlies the change, and thus the appropriate policy responses.

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October 28th, 2016

Are councils driving waste on the road to nowhere?

by Neil Grundon

 

In the 1980s, Margaret Thatcher took a scythe to a bloated and unproductive public sector with the introduction of ‘Compulsory Competitive Tendering’ (CCT). Like most things Thatcher did, it was divisive but effective, and eventually undone by its dogmatic application to everything. For Grundon, it opened up a huge opportunity, although not quite in the way we originally planned.

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October 14th, 2016

Rejected hypotheses: analysing England’s recycling data

by Peter Jones and Andy Grant

 

Is the increase in recycling rejects in England due to an increase in the amount of contamination in recycling bins, caused by growing confusion amongst the public? Last month we identified a couple of other possibilities that would also explain the 184,000 tonne rise: better data capture, or better sorting at materials recycling facilities (MRFs). However, we didn’t attempt to assess which is the most plausible. In this article, we begin that tricky task.

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