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Water Chestnuts - Issue 10

Waste not, want not – finding alternative solutions for our rubbish

Burying rubbish in huge pits in the ground is no longer an option in the 21st Century and the UK needs to adopt a range of measures - some more popular than others - if we are going to get on top of our waste problem.

In Britain we still dump more rubbish into landfill than any other EU nation and our failure to invest in the more sustainable waste management practices based on the three Rs - re-use, recycle and recovery - has lead to our excessive dependence on landfill.

But things are finally changing. Planning and environmental permitting of landfills has been made significantly tougher with the aim of better controlling their environmental impacts because the truth is we are running out of space to dump our waste.

Our consumer culture does nothing to help. People have been encouraged to spend and buy, replacing anything at the first sign of wear and tear, improved functionality or passing fashions and many of these products have also been heavily packaged, which just adds to our waste problem, despite legislation to encourage recycling and recovery of packaging.

Our government has devised several strategies to address the problem, each with a common theme: it is local authorities and householders who are expected to do most. And some, such as "pay as you throw" schemes and penalties for failure to recycle, have proved highly unpopular. But adopt them we must if we are to avoid the inevitable – we run out of space.

To read about the alternatives visit: news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/8147964.stm

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