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May 14, 2006

Odd Question

Anyone want to answer a quick question?

These new recycling schemes in the UK....you know, sorting household waste. What would be a fair estimate of the time spent actually doing the sorting?

An hour per household per week?

May 14, 2006 in The Blogger Himself | Permalink


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not even that really, In Sutton one bin for recycling excpet glass one bin for the rest, I put the glass bottles on the doorstep, the green waste in the sack as I garden, and freecycle anything big, for my family half an hour a week,

Posted by: supermum | May 14, 2006 12:52:44 PM

Depends on the scheme, I guess. Where we live we're just asked to put recyclable stuff in a special orange bag, and the non-recyclable stuff goes in the normal bin. Really, if you already know what stuff counts as recyclable and what doesn't, it doesn't take any longer than just putting it all in the one bin. There certainly isn't a time set aside for, or required for, sorting: when you've finished with your newspaper, or bottle, or whatever, you put it in the orange bag instead of the bin. I suppose that if we put all our waste in one place and sorted it later then it would take a lot longer, but that would be a silly way of doing it.

Posted by: Tom | May 14, 2006 12:55:05 PM

An hour a week sounds fair, what with xtra trips to the dump as they wont take anything big anymore etc. The real problem is the space - instead of one bin outside you are now expected to home a whole rubbish sorting setup, and you know how generous the average new house is with space.

Posted by: The Englishman | May 14, 2006 5:05:28 PM

Report from Bexley Council area

About 10 minutes extra, to allow for walking wine bottles, milk cartons direct to the right box, out back, and not allowing a discount for not having to empty the kitchen bin so many times a week.

Definately not close to an hour, surely.


Posted by: Will | May 14, 2006 5:06:00 PM

Like Tom said, I can report it takes no longer than it does to put everything in the bin. I see you simply ignored what people actually told you in your ASI blog post though. The Adam Smith Institute: a waste of time and effort.

Tim adds: Jim. I got estimates of an hour, half an hour, 10 minutes, nothing very much and then, after filing the piece, your statement of nothing very much again.

I use estimates in the piece of an hour and 15 minutes. I reject the "nothing" argument simply because it cannot actually be true: if you are insisting that people undertake certain actions there has to be time alloted for them to perform them.

Posted by: Jim | May 15, 2006 8:40:24 AM

Depends on how stringent the requirements are; in some states in Germany you have to clean out your plastics and keep a bio bin so you're probably talking more like a half an hour a day w/ all the cleaning.

Posted by: Jean | May 15, 2006 9:57:14 AM

I have fond memories of spending 6 weeks in Berlin in an apartment, and trying to get my head around the complexities of the guidance on waste disposal written for me in German by the owner of the apartment. Different coloured bins out the back of the apartments for different types of rubbish. My German wasn't that good. So I thought that I would be able to see what was in the bins and if the bin was full of paper or glass it would be obvious. But the bins were just all full of mixed rubbish - no rhyme or reason to it! Puts paid to the myth that folks like the Germans are scrupulous recyclers!

Posted by: angry economist | May 15, 2006 10:46:37 AM

No time at all in Haringey. We put it in one big trough, the van comes round, loads it into a container at the depot, and the Chinese sort it out at their end.

Posted by: dave heasman | May 15, 2006 4:43:06 PM

We lived on South Island NZ recently. We sorted the rubbish out every week and giggled endlessly when we then read that the glass is just stockpiled because the nearest plant that can use it is on North Island.

Posted by: dearieme | May 15, 2006 4:50:36 PM

I think I agree that the time to sort the rubbish is zero. I don't have to spend time sorting and seperating rubbish because that's not how I generate waste.

Cans of food get emptied, rinsed, and then I find myself standing by the sink with an empty metal can in my hand. It takes no longer to put it in a special box than it does to put it in the bin. Similarly, when I collect the empty wine bottles from the dining table, all I have is wine bottles - I don't store a pile of mixed waste on my dining table on the off chance that I might be passing with a dustbin. Putting them in a box is just as easy as putting them in the bin.

Now, there's certainly extra time involved in putting out the rubbish - instead of taking 30 seconds to lug the dustbin to the end of the drive once a week, it takes a couple of minutes to lug the seperate boxes around, plus maybe a couple more minutes to take bottles to the bottle bank.

So for me, it's 5 minutes, maximum. If I was in the habit of placing rubbish in waste paper baskets around my house, I could see that it would take a little bit longer because then you would have sorting time when you came to empty the wpbs into your main dustbin and recycling boxes. I would be truly shocked if anyone found himslef standing by his dustbin for an hour sorting rubbish, though.

Posted by: Sam | May 15, 2006 9:54:37 PM