Sep 242010

Back in February last year Cork County Council came up with the brilliant plan of charging people to recycle their rubbish.

It appears that nothing much has changed — because the same short- sighted civil servants who decreed that charging people to do their recycling was a stellar way to encourage responsible waste management, now seem hell bent on making things more difficult in Skibbereen too.

Reduce, reuse, recycle? Not in County Cork!

Reduce, reuse, recycle? Not in County Cork you don't!

I arrived at Skibb recycling centre this afternoon to be greeted by an array of perfectly serviceable recycle bins — all seven of them cordoned off, with a liberal sprinkling of warning signs around the periphery.

Wondering what was going on I asked one of the yellow-clad attendants. It seems that the powers that be in charge of waste management have decided that they don’t need seven recycling bins (even though they’re filled to bursting point on a weekly basis, and there are often crowds of people waiting to deposit their recycling).

Instead, they’ve decided, the people of Skibbereen and the surrounding area can make do with a waste crushing / compacting machine, depositing their recyclable waste through a single, relatively small grill.

If you’ve used Skibbereen Recycling Centre at all you’ll know that it can get very busy. The “old” way provided fourteen different locations to get rid of your recycling (seven bins, a slot on each side). The “new and improved system”, with it’s single point of entry, was congested today with only four of us there. Imagine what it will be like when twenty people turn up.

The "New and Improved" recycling system in Skibbereen.

The "new and improved" recycling system in Skibbereen.

It’s madness!

It also makes me wonder what exactly is happening to our “recycling”. Plastic, cardboard, paper, etc. all gets bundled into the crusher together and is presumably compacted into a unified mass of different materials. Is that really being un-compacted, sorted and recycled… or is it going straight to landfill or into an incinerator somewhere?

There’s no way to tell for sure… but talk about fanning the flames of doubt.

My main concern here is that, again, this is making it less convenient for people to recycle their waste… which means that people on the waste management margins — the ones the County Council really should be encouraging to recycle more — will be put off.

Illegal dumping and backyard burning are real problems, and seem to be on the increase around rural Cork. It’s something Cork County Council should be addressing. Stunts like this though — that make recycling more difficult — only add to the problem.

Unfortunately, in the race against waste Cork seems to be heading in the wrong direction!

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