‘Recycled? Nae, it all goes in landfill’

The Other Half and I recently spent several hours sorting rubbish that accumulated in the steading building since before we bought the croft.

As we folded and bagged plastic livestock feed bags, dug out old 12v and 24v batteries, disinterred drums and bottles of oils, wood treatments and unknown liquids. collected 6V lantern batteries, numerous AA and AAA batteries, and divided metals into ferrous and non-ferrous, we thought we’d do the right thing by taking the stuff we can’t use to Aberdeenshire Council’s recycling point in the village.

It’s manned on Wednesdays and Saturdays, to take rubbish that doesn’t go in the bottle and paper recycling bins and, I presumed, to ensure the rubbish was properly sorted.

With the Land Rover loaded to the roof with detritus, I headed down to the recycling point this morning to unload.

I was in for a shock.

Yes, the metal drums of oils and transmission fluids were emptied into an oil reservoir, as was the large plastic bottle.

But the drums, the empty plastic bottle and all the smaller bottles—still containing oils—were simply thrown into a compactor.

The bottles of professional wood preservatives and herbicides followed them in.

When I asked the bloke manning the point if they could be recycled, he said “Recycled? Nae, it all goes in landfill”.

Next, the batteries.

The 12v and 24v automotive batteries did go into a crate for recycling, as the man said the lead in them is valuable, but the lantern, AA and AAA batteries were thrown into the compactor as well.

So much for the “don’t dispose of in waste bin” logos on the batteries.

Plastic feed bags? Yes, into the compactor with them as well, along with an assortment of soggy cardboard boxes.

Apparently there’s no recycling of plastic feed bags, while slightly damp cardboard has no market. (There was too much of the latter to compost as our compost and muck heaps are already well layered with paper livestock feed bags.)

I was amazed that so much waste, some of it potentially hazardous, continues to be crushed in a compactor and carted off to to landfill.

We’re constantly told about the importance of reducing the amount of landfill, warned of prosecutions for inappropriate disposal of waste and told how so many things can be recycled.

It’s largely a lie.

Instead of dumping your waste in a rubbish tip or leaving it to lie about, you take it to a recycling point so the council can dump it in a tip.

Talk about pointless.

- – - – -

For the record, I couldn’t salvage the automotive batteries (none held a charge, some were damaged), I wasn’t keen on salvaging oils of unknown specification and origin, and I certainly wasn’t keeping the preservatives and herbicides with their numerous warnings.  I’ll keep some of the scrap metal for re-use, while the rest will be sold.

7 Responses to “‘Recycled? Nae, it all goes in landfill’”

  1. mummys little angel Reply 20 February, 2008 at 18:04

    just out of interest did the battery I was dubious of hold a charge, or was it beyond resurrection?

  2. We’re lucky down here then, the local council actually collects spent batteries along with glass once a month:


    I remain frustrated with how much plastic waste we end up with, since we still buy much of our food from the supermarket…

  3. Probably is what happens in the US with recycling as well. I don’t know if we locally recycle batteries though. If you want to get rid of liquids we have two times a year we can take to a place to get disposed off. We ended up with six cans of pink/purple paint, that no one wants. God knows what in my grandfather’s attic or garage. Can I say it least it wasn’t 50 years worth of stuff ?

  4. Our local coucil claim to recycle the vast majority of these items, however as we have to drive to the other side of the city to do it, it is neither economic nor environmentally friendly to make the trip very often. However storage of waste for recycling is equally impractical for many.

    The government should impose a greater obligation on councils to re-cycle properly and insist that all items that can be recycled can be placed in the recycling bins, instead of only taking away the lucrative waste.

  5. It sounds like our recycling system here in rural NSW is among the better examples. I understand the recycled material, collected fortnightly in our area at the farm gate, is then sorted in a major centre and disposed off appropriately for reuse.

    If taken to the local tip it is also sorted on the spot into different categories and shipped accordingly.

    I recently purchased some fence posts made from recycled plastic drink bottles. They are very good and can be worked with normal woodworking etc tools. No termites, no rot and long life.

  6. I’ve heard similar stories many times, a lot of my German friends have said that about ercycling in Germany, a country which is often seen as being good at recycling. i wouldn’t be at all surprised if that happens here in Edinburgh. i always hope that our recycling is really recycled but you just don’t know. Though when I was last down at the big dump, all the materials to be recycled were very well organised, which was reassuring if nothing else


  1. Refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle « winkos - 10 January, 2013

    [...] Stonehead made a similar observation to Pete and added further posts to explain the issue in more detail (just search his blog for recycle), and one of the points I think he makes best is that if we all followed the mantra ‘refuse, reduce, reuse and recycle’ we might not create so much waste in the first place. He goes on to point out that the refuse part of the mantra seems to have been dropped and the emphasis is on recycle rather than reduce; after all if we refused and reduced how would we keep the economy in growth! [...]

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