Friday, August 17, 2007

Who is living in the real world?

I've just done a head to head debate on Bristol's Star Radio with Knowle Lib Dem Cllr Gary Hopkins about whether corn starch plastic bags should be introduced for use in the brown bin food recycling system.

Its noteable that he had no answer to my description of the environmental impact of the bags themselves, particularly set against re-using newspaper. He made no comment on whether land should be used to grow food instead of crops to make plastic bags. He had no reply to my point about even low waste paper households such as my own having sufficient unwanted paper to wrap up a bit of food waste. He did not respond to my point about recycling only being the third best option in the waste management hierarchy - reduce, and re-use first.

His main genuine argument seemed to be based on the idea of increased support for the brown bin system if bags are introduced. Whether there would be increased take up is debateable. Its a maybe - something we would not know for sure until we did it. In some places support rates rise but there is evidence that this is not always so. Its missing the point anyway because there is no way that recycling could increase enough to compensate for the increased environmental impacts produced by manufacturing the bags!

The point of recycling is to cut environmental impacts but food waste recycling with corn starch bag use would have a higher environmental impact than without them - somewhat defeating the object. If he's unsure about this point then why doesn't he, and in fact the council itself, agree to do a full environmental audit of the system with and without plastic bags. If it can be shown that total impact is lower with the bags I'll even sign his petition on them - to date the poor chap still has just three signatures, and one of those is his own!

His jibe during the debate about greens/me not addressing the 'real world' presumeably means his 'real world' where its better to grow crops to make plastic bags than food for the hungry!


  1. I'm sure Gary reads your blog. If he didn't answer those questions on air, maybe he could answer here.

  2. Yes, I hope he does post a comment here. I'll give him a short while to respond. If he doesn't I'll send him a copy of my blog entry and request some answers.


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