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Letter: New Forest must move to a 'zero waste' policy

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SIR – New Forest District Council’s plans for improving the efficiency of our local domestic waste disposal are to be commended.

Our local council has been one of the worst for managing recyclable waste. The New Forest sees only 34% of its rubbish recycled when many other areas have managed over 60%.

The new proposals currently being debated may be unpopular for some but they will have the advantage of avoiding the current confusion of messages householders face about what can be recycled, and should help ensure many more plastics, aluminium and drinks cartons get taken away and sorted to avoid landfill.

Any stroller walking along one of our shores will notice that much of the plastic washed up and sitting at the high tide mark is from single-use packaging. Water bottles, food trays, yoghurt pots pile up on the beach where they break into fragments to be picked over by confused sea birds who suffer indigestion and much worse.

Despite the enormity of the international task, we can all do our bit and act locally. It is good to see some local greengrocers adopting simple paper bags for packaging vegetables.

Supermarkets too should be moving to use more degradable paper-based products for their packaging. They should certainly stop using non-recyclable plastics.

But our council could do much to move one step further and join the national campaign towards a ‘zero waste’ packaging economy, as other countries are doing.

Our ever flowing river of rubbish into British-based landfill is no longer sustainable. Shipping it to developing countries is no longer acceptable. Incineration adds global warming carbon emissions to the atmosphere.

Yet there are solutions. Friends of the Earth and other national campaigners have long pointed the way to a zero-waste society in which a 100% recycling will be the norm. That will mean a concerted effort by industry as well as householders – much more biodegradable packaging and easily recycled plastics.

Perhaps NFDC, with its responsibility for a uniquely beautiful and protected forest and sea environment, could go one step further in its review of waste management practices.

It could not only catch up with other councils but, by working with national organisations, supermarkets and manufacturers, aim to reduce the waste they impose on us all and help cut the huge expense we carry in carting away so much plastic from our bins in the first place.

B. Collins,


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