The Truth About The EU And Our Rubbish (Why Our Rubbish Is Now Collected Fortnightly)

Vernon Coleman

We used to bury our rubbish either in large holes (old mines and quarries) or to reclaim land. But the EU has banned this sensible use of waste and now pretends to want us to recycle to protect the environment. In reality, what happens is that millions of tons of our rubbish are exported (at enormous expense and a great expenditure of energy) to China and other Asian countries where it is buried in order to fill in large holes or to reclaim land.

To add insult to considerable injury, the EU is also planning to fine Britain 200 million a year (or more) for being in breach of EU rules on the amount of our rubbish `they' allow us to send to our landfill sites. The EU's regulations and directives have created utter chaos. First there are plans to introduce a `pay-as-you-throw' tax on rubbish. Then, when it is pointed out that if you put a tax on each bag of rubbish that is left out for collection the least scrupulous householders will be in and out of their homes all night long moving bags from outside their home and putting them outside their neighbour's. The loser in this game of musical rubbish bags will, of course, be the weak and elderly residents who are too frail to play the game with the necessary degree of enthusiasm. In an attempt to obey the EU and to cut down the amount of rubbish they dispose of, councils are collecting rubbish once a fortnight and limiting householders to the amount they can cram into a small plastic container. (Meanwhile, in other EU countries, rubbish continues to be collected once a day.)

Collecting rubbish once a fortnight is, of course, a serious health hazard. Rubbish stinks and attracts rats. In order to combat the inevitable health hazards at least one council has instructed its ratepayers to double wrap everything they throw away. To sell us this nonsense we are told that we must reduce the amount of rubbish we produce by recycling far more. (No one explains precisely how we reduce the amount of rubbish we produce when everything we buy is double or triple wrapped, and councils and the Government continue to bombard us with unsolicited leaflets and other printed debris). But the recycling story is a confidence trick. Millions of tons of rubbish collected for recycling are quietly dumped in landfill sites, or shipped out in containers to China so that the Chinese can dump it in their landfill sites. As long as the rubbish is officially classified as having been recycled no one cares what happens to it. All that matters is that the bureaucrats in Brussels are happy that we are doing what we've been told to do.

The whole sorry saga began in 1987 when a European treaty allowed the EU to control the way we dispose of our waste. Denmark and Holland were both running out of space to bury their rubbish and so to cater for their specific needs the European Commission began a new rubbish policy for the whole of the EU. As always the policy was a mixture of compromise and misunderstanding and it has created chaos, confusion, bewilderment and anger. It has turned binmen from friendly street collectors into some of the most hated figures in our communities.

The Landfill Directive of 1999 was the result of the EU's deliberations.

A group of faceless, nameless bureaucrats decided that since Holland and Denmark didn't have enough space in which to bury their rubbish we should all phase out burying rubbish in holes in the ground (regardless of whether or not we had enough suitable holes) and instead start incinerating rubbish or recycling it.

The one country in Europe that was doomed by the new directive was Britain because we have always used more of our rubbish for landfill than any other country. And we had used our rubbish well. We had used it to reclaim areas of land being lost to the sea and we had used it to fill in old quarries. And we had done more sensible recycling than virtually any other country in Europe. Thanks to the EU our rubbish policy is in utter chaos. Every aspect of our rubbish has been affected. It sometimes seems that the EU can never leave anything alone if it works. They have not, it seems, ever heard of the phrase `if it aint broke don't fix it'. Our method of dealing with old car batteries worked exceptionally well. The proportion of old batteries recycled was 97%. But under the EU's new scheme the number recycled has dropped to under 80%. The EU has actually reduced the amount of recycling that is done. And the EU's policies on the disposal of fridges, old cars and old paint tins has produced an explosion of fly-tipping which has turned our roadside verges into a series of rubbish dumps and has created a whole new black market industry designed to evade the rules.

Just this morning I was awoken at 7.00 am by a good deal of noise in the street outside our home. When I looked out of the window I saw that a removal van full of old and clearly unwanted furniture had been backed up to the back of a council refuse lorry. The council's refuse collectors had just collected our black bags from the pavement and were busily feeding a vast pile of old mattresses, chairs and tables into the machinery which chews up rubbish. Finally, to make matters even worse the British Government has been putting more and more taxes on landfill. Councils and businesses simply cannot cope. So, what's the bottom line? We are paying more money to the EU, we are recycling less rubbish, our towns and cities stink and are unhealthy, our countryside is littered with abandoned television sets, computers, paint tins, fridges, old cars, batteries and heaven knows what other rubbish (EU-approved but dangerous light bulbs will soon be added to the list), our privacy is being threatened by spy-in-the-bin cameras, identity thieves are having a field day (because of the rubbish bags left abandoned on our streets) and our relationships with our binmen have been destroyed.

Thanks to EU directives on the disposal of rubbish, householders in Britain are now paying more and more for a constantly deteriorating service. Many people living in Britain now have their rubbish collected just once a fortnight. When a householder telephoned his local council to point out that rubbish left uncollected for two weeks was smelling badly and attracting rats he was told that he should double wrap every item of rubbish in plastic and then place the doubled wrapped items in a double layer of black plastic sack. It did not seem to occur to the council official that this would dramatically increase the amount of unrecycled waste. Nor did it seem to occur to him that double wrapping waste food will not deter rats - who can gnaw through steel and tarmacadam. There are currently said to be 80,000,000 rats in Britain. The number is increasing daily and the rats are getting larger. Rats spread a number of dangerous diseases including Weil's disease, foot and mouth disease, toxoplasmosis, salmonella, e.coli, cryptosporidium and tuberculosis.

Copyright Vernon Coleman 2011
Adapted from the book OFPIS by Vernon Coleman.
For details of how to order OFPIS please visit the bookshop on this site.