Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Fines for not recycling: Failing to be eco should not be painful

From Croydon Advertiser 29th June 2012

Online version can be viewed here.

Gareth Davies from the Croydon Advertiser rang to ask for comment on behalf of Croydon Green Party regarding the tip off he had received on the Councils' intention to fine residents who fail to recycle. Commenting on this was tricky. I consulted a couple of our officers and came up with the following below:

However, it is important to be clear why the Greens in Croydon feel it is wrong to fine people who fail to recycle. The backdrop here is key: Whilst 97 per cent of climate scientists believe that man made climate change is real, only 41 per cent of Britons accept as an established scientific fact that climate change is man made. I accept the wording of the two poll findings are not identical, but there is clearly a disconnect between what the public in this country believe and what the scientists are telling us.

If you listen to radio phone ins, as I do, what people are saying is that this whole idea of being forced to be green has been constructed in order to raise revenue, through taxation and penalties. I am thinking of the congestion charge, climate change levy and low emission zones.

The majority of people in the UK want the freedom to choose how they live and despise the 'nanny state' interfering with their personal choice. Arguably, the origins stem from when Thatcher destroyed the idea of the society, in favour of the individual, people is this country do not want to be taxed any more.

This is why I felt this was "overwhelmingly not the way forward." As someone who seeks to bring people around to Green Party thinking, fining people for not being green is only going to put people off  issues relating to the environment. Maybe I have thought to deeply about this issue, and I understand why Croydon Friends of the Earth are in favour of these fines, BUT rewarding people for being green is a much much better route, especially as schemes such as these have an additional affect of putting money back into our pockets in a time where growth is nil.

Personally, I am in favour of personal carbon or eco credits, apparently so is Ed Miliband. There should be a level of personal choice within the green economy. Is it right that a low income chaotic household will be fined for failing to recycle, whilst an affluent household can jet off to their overseas holiday home every other month without penalty??

I was interested to read that the ultra right wing Barnet council, the council that has a strategy of privatising all its public services, was the first to introduce fines for failing to recycle. 

The other comments I gave:

  • One of my neighbours was shocked when I told him just last week we had gone to fortnightly bin collections in Croydon. This shows that people are still unsure about what and why they should be recycling. If you miss the leaflet that comes around, you will not know what is going on, especially if you don't receive a local paper.
  • Increasing our recycling rates, as this scheme would undoubtedly do, would also mean that the proposed incinerator would undoubtedly need to import waste from outside the four boroughs (see
  • Viridor, the preferred bidder for the proposed incinerator,  have conceded that they do not intend to pre-sort the waste that goes into the proposed incinerator. One assumes this is additional cost that on Viridor. By putting the onus on the resident, with this idea of fines for failing to recycle, the responsibility has shifted to the public to sort it.
  • Is the cost of employing investigators monitoring our recycling going to be paid for by the fines?

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