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Unveiling the British Conservative Party’s ‘Seven Bins’ Saga: Debunking the Confusion Surrounding Waste Reform

  The British Conservative Party held a conference a while ago. Prime Minister Sunak gave a speech and announced a series of major measures that the government will launch. Among them, the eye-catching and confusing one is that the Conservative government will “abolish Seven bins per household” plan. Everyone knew that his speech was just to build momentum for next year’s general election and should not be taken seriously. However, these “seven trash cans” were very strange after all, and they immediately became a hot topic. Someone immediately pointed out that the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), which is responsible for waste disposal in the UK, does plan to reform waste classification and classify it into seven categories for separate treatment, but there is no plan for “seven bins”, and even if Defra This idea needs to be approved by the Conservative government before it can be “abolished” by the Conservative government. Is this a game of left-hand and right-hand play?
  In fact, Defra’s idea of ​​uniformly classifying garbage is not wrong, because the finer the garbage is, the better the recycling effect will be. Defra’s reform plan is to divide waste into seven categories: glass, cardboard, paper, plastic, metal, food and garden waste, and does not require the first five categories to use different bins respectively. Sunak’s speech actually confused the seven categories of garbage with the “seven trash cans.” He probably wanted to arouse voters’ dissatisfaction and believe that “the government has gone too far” and highlight the Conservative Party’s stance of defending the concept of “small government.”
  Putting politics aside, can Defra’s seven categories of waste classification be achieved? Currently, local governments in the UK are responsible for waste sorting, and practices vary from place to place. Taking Edinburgh as an example, multi-storey residences use public trash cans, while row houses and single-family houses each have their own trash cans, which are distributed by the government, and garbage trucks are scheduled to collect specific garbage. This is no different from other places in the UK, but Edinburgh’s approach seems not to have thought that different types of recyclable waste need to be separated. Therefore, except for glass bottles, there are separate bins for all other recyclable waste: waste paper, drink cans, plastic Boxes, etc. are placed in the same bucket. So who does the sorting and by what method? When I lived in Chester, a small town in England, I discovered that when sanitation workers went to every household to collect recyclable garbage, they would sort it on the spot and put it into garbage trucks. However, in Edinburgh, they all put it into garbage trucks to collect it.
  I went on vacation to the remote Orkney Islands in northern Scotland this summer and found that the sorting of recyclable waste there was more detailed than in Edinburgh. We stayed in a B&B with a single-family bungalow. Two of the three trash cans at the door were recycling trash cans. When we opened the lid, we found that there was a small hanging basket inside, which could be used to separate different recyclable garbage. It is conceivable that the sanitation workers there are much more efficient at sorting garbage than in Chester.
  If you think about it carefully, it is understandable that the Orkney Islands have done so meticulously. After all, the island space is limited and garbage disposal is not good, which can easily affect the lives of local residents. According to the Orkney Islands government website, food and garden waste will be composted on the island, glass will be crushed on the island and processed, other waste will need to be transported to other places by ship, and recyclable waste will be transported to the UK in separate categories. From recycling centers across the island, non-recyclable waste will be transported further north to the Shetland Islands, where there are special waste incineration facilities. Only a small part of the non-recyclable waste will be landfilled. Although the Orkney Islands are remote, the environment is very clean, which I believe is inseparable from this complete garbage disposal system.
  Speaking of which, Britain is also a big island. There should be a sense of urgency regarding the resources required in the waste disposal process and the impact on the environment. Defra’s vision is to unify waste classification and processing across the country and adopt the same standards, ultimately improving recycling efficiency. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with this. If recyclable waste needs to be sorted into more fine details, then it’s better to promote the design of the Orkney Islands. The residents can make more contributions to protecting the environment with just a little effort.