Recycling and rubbish

It is, as is so often the case, the cat’s fault. Not, on this occasion, a little pile of puke in some nook or cranny, nor even rearrangements of our clutter in the dead of night – no, it’s the problem over recycling.

Throughout the Western world, rocket scientists, cryptographers, and the best minds around are still baffled by the simple question as to whether refuse items are recyclable. Here in the UK, it not only varies according to subtle interpretation, but by local authority. There are parts of the country where moving just a few yards/metres down a street results in a complete change in policy as to what gets recycled, and what does not.

The particular spur on this occasion is that our council’s refuse/garbage/recycling contractor changes in the next few weeks, and the new contractor has distributed new bins and new instructions for their use. My current exegetic crisis surrounds one category of waste which had previously not been singled out in the illogical breakdown as to what will be accepted for recycling: animal food pouches.

Now that most packaging displays guidance as to whether it should be recyclable, I had looked on the pouches which contain our cat’s gourmet fish meals (sometimes I think she eats better than we do), and they are clearly marked as recyclable. Either that or I am misreading the icon to indicate that they are made from pure wool. Or was it that they must not be ironed? There are so many icons which are so similar, spattered over packaging and labels.

Anyway, for the last few years in which our council have been operating kerbside recycling collections, all the cat’s empty food pouches have been sent for recycling, as marked.

But the new contractor, perhaps reading the icon differently, singles out animal food pouches as not being recyclable, instructing us to put them in the regular refuse/garbage. Hence my crisis, and the cat being held to account.

I cannot even get any guidance from anyone else. Each time I ask someone who might know better than me, I am met with utter indifference. Because there is no incentive to divide our rubbish accurately, and no penalty for not doing so, most people just shrug their shoulders and say they throw almost everything in for recycling, irrespective of whether it is listed as being recyclable. It is clearly just too complex, they are as baffled as we are, so act arbitrarily.

I am sure that wherever they take the recycling to, someone there must know what they’re doing. Or maybe it just gets exported in bulk to a developing economy, where it all goes into landfill after all.

Perhaps I should just ask the cat. Given that some days it takes her five minutes to decide whether she wants to go outside, I know that she would get it right.