Greenwash, greenwash everywhere

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Greenwash, greenwash everywhere but very little truth.

Pet peeve warning! If there is one thing that I hate more than unnecessary waste then it is greenwash, and I hate both with a vengeance.

NoPapercupThere seems to be greenwash almost everywhere that we look at the moment, and that especially in the UK (won't talk about the US).

Only the other day we reported about the stunt in the Square Mile about single use coffee cup recycling, which does not actually work, and you will read in that article why not.

The “coordinator” of the organizing company contacted me via Facebook after my initial article telling me that indeed the cups are recyclable and are being properly recycled. Now then they are capable to doing things that all recycling experts and the UK government say are not possible, namely recycling those plastic lined cardboard coffee cups.

Then there is the glass recycling which is not recycling but downcycling for when waste operatives state that they cannot understand why people meticulously sort bottles and jars by color as it all ends up in the same bin in the wagon anyway. That should give us something to think about, should it not? All colors in the same bin. In other words when we are being told that new bottles and jars are made out of those “recyclables” we are being lied to.

There is the claim that Sweden is so great in recycling and that because of that the country keeps running out of rubbish is also rubbish. Why? It is not because of their great recycling rate though, admittedly, it is better than the British one, but due to the fact that all the refuse in Sweden which is burnable ends up in waste-to-energy plants. In other words, it is incinerated. OK! They get electricity and heat from it at the same time but that is neither here nor there. It is the way that this is presented in the media and by the governments that should give us food for thought.

The only time that we are not, it would seem, lied to when it comes to recycling seems to be with regards to metals, be that aluminium or tin cans, etc. Those really do become aluminium or steel again in that they are melted down to get new metal from them. As far as the rest is concerned, with a possible exception of some plastic recycling, greenwash abounds and that by the tonne. But as far as plastic recycling goes it is also not without greenwash.

I think it is high time that government and industry came clean and stopped pretending to be green when they are not. Admit to the people what works and what does not and tell the people honestly how the recycling is done or whether it is at all done.

Too much about recycling is just a box-ticking exercise which achieves very little to nothing. We need to take a different approach, that of reduction of waste, be that packaging, food or other, as in the case of take out coffee cups, and then reuse and repair, for products. Products must be made repairable so that they can be used for as long as possible. It can be done and is not rocket science. The packaging that is necessary should be made in such a way that either it is biodegradable, that is to say it will turn into soil over time if left to do so, or designed in such a way that an immediate reuse is obvious. That too was done, at least by some companies in times not so long ago and some still do it.

© 2017