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September 10, 2007

More Lunacy

Is this really a Tory proposal?

a doubling of landfill tax for business...

Aren't they supposed to be the party of economic rationality?

The Conservatives will also propose a locally levied waste tax linked to a household's success in recycling and composting. Landfill will be banned from 2015 for any item that could be recycled.

Anything and everything can in theory be recycled. The question is, at what cost? You can make arguments on purely cash terms, in which case we already do too much recycling (way, way too much when you consider the cost of the labour that goes into sorting it). Or you might want to be much more restrictive and look at, say, the greenhouse gas emissions of recycling versus landfill.

A couple of notes on that: the use of green glass as roadfill creates more CO2 e than landfilling it does. So the recycling of green glass (which, as we tend not to bottle much wine in this country, has no other use) actively damages the environment.

Further, as that recent report showed, composting by use of a wormery creates greenhouse gases: notably, nitrous oxide from the worms. Total CO2 e emissions from a wormery are equal to said from a landfill. One puts out the nitrous, the other methane. But that is CO2 e, equivalent. The nitrous floats off into the atmosphere, while the methane is captured and used to generate energy, turning it into CO2. Thus landill, in hte end, releases 23 times less CO2 e than wormeries.

And, in order to save the planet, we're going to insist that people compost?

September 10, 2007 in Environmentalism | Permalink


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Numbers, Tim, numbers.

This landfill tax appears to be £28 per tonne. How many tonnes of land fit on one acre, stacked five yards high? I dunno, maybe 24,000? So you are fined £672,000 for cacking up one acre of land.

Now, assuming they use low-value agricultural land, which is worth £4,000 an acre (and would be worth much less if we didn't have the £75 per acre annual subsidy), the fine seems totally disproportionate to the 'offence'.

I agree with your other points.

Posted by: Mark Wadsworth | Sep 10, 2007 12:13:26 PM

"23 times less"? What does that mean, Tim?

If it's 23 times, then it has to be greater, not less. Or did you mean one twenty-third?

You are talking about journalistic numeracy on this blog (a subject on which I agree with you) but you also need to put your own house in order.

Incidentally, I had to contact the Guardian to correct a highly misleading story once. They were talking about industrial output having leapt to its highest level in a decade in one particular quarter. Upon reading the article, it emerged that output had done no such thing - the rate of *growth* of output had leapt by the greatest amount in a quarter for ten years but the absolute level was still substantially below its peak during that period, on account of the fact that there had been many quarters of falling output during that quarter. They went on about "orders flooding in" - in fact orders were below "normal" but had increased substantially from the previous (extremely poor) quarters.

Tim adds: A valid gotcha. One twenty third it should be.

Posted by: HJHJ | Sep 10, 2007 1:28:08 PM