I nearly included this article in one of my five news items last week:
Is there a serious problem with coffee capsules?
It seems there could be - the article reports on how Hamburg has banned the use of coffee pods in state run buildings to reduce waste. It certainly got me thinking about the whole recycling issue.
Where I live we are able to recycle paper, cans and plastic bottles with our domestic refuse. We have a separate bin for the recyclable items. There are also bottle banks nearby where I can recycle glass. I also have a composter in my garden although I need to up my game on that one as I kept putting stuff in without really doing anything to it or taking it out so at the moment my composting has ground to a halt.
We buy a lot of fresh food rather than processed so our use of food packaging is not too bad but it could be better. I'm much more conscious of what goes in my rubbish bin that might end up in a landfill site. When I saw the coffee pods article last week I started thinking about what similar things I might be doing and one of those was buying disposable wipes for the bathroom. They are very convenient but it made me realise that they are not environmentally friendly and I don't actually need them. A few new cloths and the recyclable bottles of cleaning fluids would work just as well.
Fortunately we don't have a fancy coffee machine that needs pods but with their growing popularity it's easy to see how bad they are for the environment. It was pointed out that one of the manufacturers has a recycling scheme in place so I started to look into that.
The Tassimo Recycling Scheme has been set up as an incentive based scheme similar to schemes for printer cartridges where you collect the items, package them up and send them back to be recycled and earn points for rewards or cash. All well and good. Except that there doesn't seem to be many collection points within the Greater London area and the nearest to me is more than 10km away. At present there is also a waiting list for anyone wanting to set up a new collection point. You also have to collect quite a lot of pods to earn any rewards.
Other manufacturers have schemes where you are provided with a box which once filled can be sent off but, and this is a big but, the box has to be purchased!
This got me thinking about two things. Firstly should we be looking at placing restrictions on the introduction of things that are harmful to the environment.
Secondly, maybe when recycling programmes are set up they should be free to users. Of course I realise that the costs of recycling will be passed on to the consumer in some way, the most obvious being charging more for the product in the first place. But I'm sure that more people would be encouraged to recycle their coffee pods if all they had to do was take them to a recycling point. Yes the machine might cost more but these things seem so popular I'm not sure they would be put off buying one.
There definitely needs to be more joined up thinking when it comes to creating goods that pose environmental issues with their disposal and the whole recycling process.