Following the launch of a new Recycle More initiative, domestic recycling arrangements are now so complicated that Universities are offering degrees in the subject. The courses are designed to provide students with the skills and knowledge required to understand the bewildering complexity of the range of items that can be recycled via what council-supplied receptacle on what day of the week.
‘The days of simply putting old newspapers out in a separate pile from the rest of the rubbish are a long way behind us now,’ explained Andrew Godwin, Professor of Reprocessing and Repurposing. ‘We need to analyse each item of refuse in turn and make a decision on which of the seven recycling bins is most appropriate for that item, based on an ever-developing set of complicated criteria. Make a mistake and Marks & Spencer’s staff will have no fleeces to wear, that’s how serious this is.’
The course will cover why you can recycle aluminium foil in one county but not the neighbouring one, the reason for keeping bottle tops on in certain regions but not in others, and the difference between thick paper and thin cardboard. The final year of the course will concentrate on the recycling of plastics, providing students with the expertise to determine whether that crinkly plastic tray is classified as a plastic tray, which can be recycled, or an item made of crinkly plastic, which can’t. It will also explain that, however well you attempt to follow all the recycling instructions, recycling workers maintain the right to take what they feel like and leave the rest scattered haphazardly over the pavement.
The ultimate aim of the course is to inspire everyone to recycle more as the amount of recycled material currently varies enormously from house to house, something that Professor Godwin is keen to address. ‘It is no good claiming to be green but only recycling an empty jar of Marmite once every three weeks,’ he said. ‘Personally, my bins are absolutely full of empty Stella cans and wine bottles every week, but I can’t save the planet by myself.’