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May 25, 2007

Bored With Recycling Yet?

I just called the press office at Defra.

Hi, all this recycling biz. So, what's the department's estimate of the time it will take the average family to recycle items? You know, sort them, wash those that need washing, get everything into the right boxes?

"We don't have one".

What?

Sorry, words fail me. There is no estimate, not even a guess, at the largest cost in the proposed recycling program. Zip, zilch and nada.

Why are we ruled by these fuckwits?

May 25, 2007 in Environmentalism | Permalink

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Comments

Would you expect any organised religion to make an estimate of the time it takes to carry out a devotion before they instruct their congregation to begin worshipping...?

Posted by: JuliaM | May 25, 2007 11:05:05 AM

Come on, Tim! Get with the program. DEFRA doesn't have to account for our time spent sorting the rubbish since it doesn't have to pay for our time. It's outside the financial equation. Anyway, since most of us are vassals of the State, and as government already commandeers our cash, why can't it do the same with our time? I think all subjects should be forced to give at least 25% of their time to the State. It's only right and fair.

Posted by: MarkS | May 25, 2007 11:56:04 AM

> Why are we ruled by these fuckwits?

Because we haven't strung them up yet.

Posted by: AntiCitizenOne | May 25, 2007 12:26:35 PM

If you look at what gets extorted from your pay packet for

1) Income tax.
2) EE Notional Insurance
3) ER Notional Insurance
3) VAT
4) Petrol Duty etc.

You are working for the state considerably more than 25%.

Posted by: AntiCitizenOne | May 25, 2007 12:29:34 PM

"Because we haven't strung them up yet."

When can we start?

Posted by: Bishop Hill | May 25, 2007 12:29:43 PM

Soon, Bishop Hill. Just got to do a full risk assessment first.

Posted by: Mr Eugenides | May 25, 2007 12:34:54 PM

Sorry, words fail me. There is no estimate, not even a guess, at the largest cost in the proposed recycling program. Zip, zilch and nada.

So there's no estimate, but you know it's the largest cost nonetheless. How?

Tim adds: That's a very good question. Because, in the past, I've looked up the report that started this whole move towards recycling? The one that said that waste disposal costs us 1.6 billion and will soon cost us 3 .2 billion?
And then I looked around to try and find out how much time is spent sorting for recycling? Like in Seattle it's reported as being 45 minutes per household per week? And then I look up the number of households in hte UK, the minimum wage, and, hey, I can show that the cost of sorting the materials for recycling is greater than the entire waste disposal system.

You mean "that" how I know it's the largest cost?

Posted by: StuartA | May 25, 2007 12:37:01 PM

>So there's no estimate, but you know it's the largest cost nonetheless. How?

Um, perhaps because he doesn't need to wait for the official estimate before he does his own?

Posted by: Stephen | May 25, 2007 1:04:38 PM

I reckon it takes us only about an extra 10 minutes a week to sort our rubbish down here. We don't wash anything and all the recyclables go in one big wheelie bin which is collected once a fortnight. The other week they pick up our green waste in another big wheelie bin.

You should see the look on peoples faces when I suggest that we might be consuming more resources by recycling stuff than burying it. Some people actually say, with a straight face, that there are no landfill sites left in Australia!

Posted by: Forester | May 25, 2007 2:26:32 PM

Um, perhaps because he doesn't need to wait for the official estimate before he does his own?

In which case his original point evaporates. If all we need for an estimate worth using is an amateur economist with a collection of neoliberal prejudices and a desk calculator then why make such a fuss? They can knock one out as quickly as Tim writes one of his illogical, ill-informed postings, without providing official estimates to random phone callers.

You mean "that" how I know it's the largest cost?

I'm guessing this is some attempt to be witty, although I can't judge until it's rendered into English.

Tim adds: Look up the report "Waste Not Want Not" from the Prime Minister's Strategy Unit. Total domestic waste disposal costs are given as £1.6 billion a year, rising to £3.2 in 2020.

UC Davis looked at the time required to sort (to very much the same rules as suggested for here) for recycling in Seattle and they were 16 minutes per household per week for recycling, 43 minutes per week including garden and food waste composting.

Multiply that time by the number of households, number of weeks and the minimum wage and you get from £1.7 billion a year to £4.5 billion a year.

Happy now with the statement that the time spent sorting to recycle is the largest cost in the system?

Something that Defra hasn't included in its calculations?

Posted by: StuartA | May 25, 2007 5:50:20 PM

I agree with StuartA. Just to educate our amateur economist a bit more, the wage rate has very little relation to the opportunity cost of time, unless the individual concerned has the freedom to choose the number of hours he works at the same hourly rate. This is not true of most people. Furthermore, the minimum wage is not much use as a lower bound. By illustration, many high powered businessmen could hire a labourer at minimum wage to mow their lawn, but most choose to do it themselves.

A non-economic point is that recycling may well be a source of satisfaction to many people, and therefore should not be considered a pure cost. By illustration, the recycling rate in this country (the UK Tim, not Portugal) may be low, but many still recycle without any direct coercion on the part of local authorities.

Posted by: Harry | May 25, 2007 11:19:14 PM

God almighty, StuartA unless you can define exactly what's new about liberal economic leanings, can you never use the term 'neo-liberal' again? Ta.

Posted by: Andrew Paterson | May 25, 2007 11:22:20 PM

I think Tim is quite correct to ask the question about time. When you consider that the 'time' of your lifespan is not something that you can purchase from somebody-else ( yes I do understand that if you are very rich you might extend your life by a few years, but not by many) then the time spent doing things IS important.

This government enjoys forcing all it citizens to spend more and more of their lives filling in the irrelevant forms it keeps adding to all the time. Purely because, as has been already mentioned, it (the time) does not come of their departmental budget.

Posted by: Steve | May 26, 2007 10:27:09 AM

Um, perhaps because he doesn't need to wait for the official estimate before he does his own?

In which case his original point evaporates. If all we need for an estimate worth using is an amateur economist with a collection of neoliberal prejudices and a desk calculator then why make such a fuss? They can knock one out as quickly as Tim writes one of his illogical, ill-informed postings, without providing official estimates to random phone callers.

Actually it's your point that has evaporated. You attempted to show a contradiction between Tim stating that no official estimate was provided, and Tim having his own estimate, presumably because you feel that only official estimates have any weight. But there is no contradiction: Tim is simply pointing out that there is no official estimate of the time involved, despite the fact that a moment's thought will show you that it is a significant cost, and in his estimate, the most significant cost.

You state that you don't know what the fuss is about, because they can knock an estimate out as quickly as Tim has. True; but they haven't done so. That's what the fuss is about.

So your ad hominems are not really to the point: whether an estimate is "worth using" or not is less important than the fact that for whatever reason no estimate at all has been made by the department, which is pretty significant.

Feel free to ask about anything else that you don't understand, although you might get more help if you try to be less insulting!

Posted by: Stephen | May 29, 2007 6:27:31 PM

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