I love almost everything about London, but what I don’t love is their lack of recycling. It is impossible to find a recycling bin at Regent’s College, where I currently study. Quite frankly it breaks my heart. Throughout the city you can find them, but they are not nearly as common as they are in Durham or even Boston for that matter. There is really only a bin for bottles and it looks exactly like the “rubbish” bin next to it. I had to swat my friend’s trash out of her hand once when she almost put it in the recycling bin. If she almost did it, I can imagine there are quite a few people who throw rubbish in the recycling bin without as much as glancing over to see which one it was. This leads me to believe that the city recycles very few bottles from these facilities. In addition to the lack of recycling, it seems like once the sun goes down, the trash comes out. There are piles and piles of them that seem to pour out of stores when the sun goes down. There are enough people, cars and bikers to dodge on the sidewalks and streets of London without the heaps of trash bags in front of every store. I don’t think I have ever noticed any separation between trash and recyclables in these piles either. I assume this means most shops do not recycle.
I looked further into this in hopes of finding something less disappointing. I looked at the City of London website and found that there are laws about trash, instructions on how to recycle, and some objectives the city of London is working on. I was correct in noticing that the trash seems to come out at sundown. The law is that there can be no trash on the sidewalks or streets between 8:00am and 6:00pm. Between 6:00pm and midnight there are two hour restrictions and there are no restrictions between midnight and 8:00am. This explains why after midnight you feel like you are walking through a dump because of the amount of trash piled on the sidewalks. The good news though, is that there are laws that require the trash to be tidy. The bags must be tied and no waste is allowed to escape. This ensures that after the bags are removed there is not waste left to rot or to attract vermin. Thanks to these laws the streets are kept clean between eight in the morning and sic in the afternoon. Businesses are also required, by law, to hire a trash removal service to properly dispose of their waste at the end of the day. This is beneficial because the company always knows what to do with their waste and it prevents trash from being left to litter the streets.
This is all great, however the “objectives” listed on the City of London’s website are quite vague and provide no explanation of how the city plans on executing these ideas. I chose three out of the nine to discuss because I thought they had the most initiative.
- “Waste reduction.” This seems fairly obvious but what the site discussed the most was convincing residents to reduce their waste through reusing items and recycling. No initiatives were proposed.
- Provide an opportunity to recycle. This objective is a good start if residents take advantage of it. It states that the city makes as many materials as possible recyclable and aims to remove them from the household as soon as possible.
- Making provided services affordable for businesses. This is a good one because since it is the law to hire a garbage removal service it might as well be affordable. It is nice that the city has made an effort to do so. This way, businesses will not be tempted to dispose of rubbish incorrectly and/or illegally.
Overall, it is surprising that in such a big city there is such a lack of excitement and encouragement to recycle. I suppose it is sort of a new fad in the U.S. but one would think London would have jumped on this band wagon as well. Perhaps these objectives are the start of a recycling movement here in London. They are off to a great start with the laws currently in place.