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Define “waste”

Exporting British rubbish overseas should be banned to stop criminals dumping waste, the chief executive of the Environment Agency has said.

Scrap steel is waste. So is scrap germanium and since Gerry Wise’s place closed down decades ago there’s no domestic processing plant. So, that got to be processed in a country with no processing ability?

You might think this is being silly. But we do have silly laws about what is waste and what is feedstock. There really are examples of folk wanting to use something but they can’t because it’s “waste”. Like, say, plastics in a furnace – so I’ve heard but I don’t know.

This is particularly stupid:

But he said: “If we set ourselves the goal of ending exports I think it would drive innovation.”

People think innovation is good. Just a good thing. Which is to reify. For the other description of innovation is to solve a problem. So, why would we want to create more problems that we’ve got to apply effort to solve?

8 thoughts on “Define “waste””

  1. Looking at my white, white hair in the mirror, I naturally feel that the burn, bash and bury approach of my youth is the way to go.

    But in reality Tim, if foreigners think they can gain something from the waste, why not let them try. We Aussies used to export a considerable quantity of waste. But as the locals got richer, they naturally thought, ‘Bugger this for a joke, the Aussies can sort out their muck themselves.’ And who can blame them.

    If the waste whiners stop trying to prevent people adopting our good old high tech/high fossil fuel approach to life, the foreigners will give UK waste the finger soon enough.

  2. Christopher Booker was all over this many man years ago.

    One story I liked was about some guy who had developed a method of drying and burning waste cardboard and generating leccy from it. Cardboard when wet is useless, apparently doesn’t even pulp properly ( so it said in his column). Chap was denied a licence and was told that he could only burn new cardboard.
    If they tried relaxng the rules ( which they won’t) then perhaps Mr Environment has a point.

  3. A good rule of thumb I’ve used is that if I have to pay you to take it away, it’s waste. If you’re willing to pay me to take it away, it’s a feedstock, maybe even a product. I don’t care what you do with it until we’ve agreed a payment should happen.

    (I’ve used this to respond to recycling enthusiasts: they claim my waste paper and PET bottles are a valuable resource that I must spend effort on sorting, cleaning and delivering to collection points. Fine. Prove it by paying me. Oh, you won’t pay? That tells me something important. Of course, they could always pay from taxes they’ve already extracted from me, but that doesn’t seem to happen much.)

    This says nothing about material with a valuable component that’s easy to extract leaving a harmful residue that’s expensive to deal with. We probably don’t want radioactive super-Ebola-infested rat poo spread around, even if it’s only in Foreign.

  4. ‘Exporting British criminal rubbish overseas should be banned . I thought it had been – (Abu Hamzah not included).

    n.b.for the purposes of this rant, ‘British’ means anyone of any persuasion / ethnicity/ sexuality/ team affiliation/ domicile (keeping up with the latest fad there) ) who happens to be in the British Isles at the time)

    I did like the Philippines sending back the 1500 tonnes of ‘high value recyclables’ dirty nappies, assorted hazardous material and hospital waste etc. etc. to Chinada (at Chinada’s expense) though.

    Rhodda, AFAIUI, it is ‘toxic waste and has be disposed of ‘responsibly’…I did see the figure of £140 per tonne some years ago

  5. it is ‘toxic waste and has be disposed of ‘responsibly’

    Toxic because it is full of fertiliser that has drained off the fields… Dear me, we can’t be having that, putting fertiliser back where it came from.

    As an aside: don’t they know there is a war on and we are short of fertiliser?

  6. Some bloke on't t'internet

    Near where I live, they built a new road, and part of the route was across land owned by a farmer I used to work for. Now, for this road, they had to remove and “dispose” of a significant amount of soil – and said farmer had other fields that as a legacy of the mining round here has spoil tips that are easiest to deal with by filling in the gaps between them to make level ground again. I suspect many are ahead of me here …
    So from land that was his they need to dispose of a lot of soil, and on other land of his he needs a load of soil. Two birds, one stone situation – all they have to do is transport the removed soil to the next field and fill his holes in for him, simples.
    Oh no, because it’s no longer his soil (land compulsory purchased), he’s told that he’ll need a licence to dump this “waste” on his land, it’ll cost a few thousand to apply for it, and there’s no guarantee he’ll get it. I guess the answer would have been to move the soil before transferring ownership of the land – but the system wouldn’t allow for that either.
    Sometimes we (using that terms fairly loosely to include all these clipboard mongers) are our own worst enemies. Though to be fair, you can’t really blame someone for doing his job when it’s the fault of those at a higher pay grade that set the stupid rules.

  7. The criminals flytipping waste are *not* exporting it. They are dumping it on innocent farmers or local authority-owned roadsides when the farmers have set up effective blockages to prevent sais criminals entering their fields.
    The chief executive of the Environment Agency needs to learn what he/she/they is talking about.

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