Make recycling worth it

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

I do mean that literally in making it worth for people to actually collect recyclables as once was the case. Nowadays the recyclables go to the municipalities who then, in turn, sell them on. And, if there is no market for the particular kinds of “recyclables” at some time then the stuff gets sent to the great hole in the ground, aka the landfill.

However, there was a time, and it is not all that long ago and not just in countries such as the German Democratic Republic, often referred to as East Germany. There, however, it was organized much better and that also and especially because raw materials were scarce in that country having little on natural resources. In fact there was a central state business in the GDR, SERO it was called, which purchased those recyclables and for many youngsters this was their pocket money.

Up until not such long ago there was a system in Britain (and many other countries) where there was a deposit on all glass bottles, except wine, and the collecting and returning of such bottles that people had, despite of the deposit money on them, thrown away, was the pocket money earner for many a youngster, myself included. In some countries a return scheme of this kind or similar still exists, or exists again, Germany being one example here, where even on plastic bottles there is a refund available. In the US there have been so-called reverse vending machines for soda bottles in many areas for decades already.

The German Democratic Republic (GDR), on the other hand, went a great deal further and all kinds of recyclables could be resold to the country, for it was the country, the state, who bought them from the collectors, and those included not just glass bottles but also glass jars, newspapers and other waste paper, as well as cardboard, and much more besides. But such schemes can, it would appear, only work in a system other than capitalism.

During the Second World War even in Britain all manner of things were being taken in for recycling, including your jam jars, albeit more often than not without any money coming to the person bringing them, After all it was for the “war effort”. But it shows that there is a way to make recycling – and especially the collecting of recyclables – worthwhile for the ordinary person if someone would be willing to pay say 20p per glass bottle or jar.

But, despite all the talk, the political will do do something like that, in other words to return to what we had once already, just is not there and all manner of excuses are being found by government.

© 2021