Letter from the Editor: waste and what to do with it; and Bhopal

Over the last couple of weeks, the news has gone waste crazy. And so it should. Awareness of waste issues by the general public in the UK is not good, and it’s one of the reasons why our record on recycling is so shocking. Oh yes, and it’s the 18th anniversary of the dreadful disaster in Bhopal that killed thousands and injured well over a hundred thousand. Who was responsible – or more to the point, who is responsible?

On 2 December 1984, 40 tonnes of toxic gas leaked out of the Union Carbide chemical plant in Bhopal, India. Eight thousand people died immediately and around 150,000 were injured. But apparently the sorry saga is not yet over. Company documents have revealed that Union Carbide could have been more responsible for the accident than they have admitted – and that they knew that the site could still be contaminated.

On a less dirty subject, last week the Governments Strategy Unit published its report into how the UK is to cure its poor record on recycling of household waste (see related story), and the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced that the increase in the Landfill Tax could be accelerated (see related story).

But it’s not good enough, we’ve been told this week. For a start, £35 per tonne for the Landfill Tax is still too little, and we’re not going to reach that for several years. And secondly, household waste is just 7% of the UK’s waste stream – recycling 45% of it is a drop in the ocean of construction, agricultural and all the rest of the industrial waste that goes to landfill.

This week there has also been a donation of £76 million for local authority recycling, a new hazardous waste forum, and a new industry forum for general waste issues, all in the UK. Meanwhile, in Europe, calls have been made to reduce discharges of hazardous waste into the Baltic.

This week, edie is joining the general waste fray by publishing a waste management and recycling special report.

Kind regards

Helen André


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