Letter: The right track for waste recycling

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The Independent Online
Sir: Neither Margaret Maxwell ('Boxed in by rubbish', 14 September) nor Alan Shipman (Letters, 16 September) come close to finding the real solutions to the problems of recycling our waste. The answer does not lie in bringing recycling centres nearer our homes and out of the supermarket car parks, but in taking the responsibility for the task entirely out of our hands.

The current recycling infrastructures depend upon the willingness of the consumer to engage in this time- and space-consuming activity, the result being that only a fraction of our waste ends up being re-used.

What is needed is an approach similar to systems being set up in Germany and France, where distributors and the consumer retail industry are made responsible for the collection and recycling of all the packaging they put on the market.

By paying a small contribution per single item of packaging sold, they subscribe to a scheme which, in the case of Germany, collects the used packaging directly from the consumer's doorstep, or, as in France, buys the packaging back from the local authorities once it has been sorted. Once back in the hands of industry, the latter is responsible for recycling specific quotas and safely disposing of the remainder.

Yours sincerely,

MARK SYDENHAM

Environment Convenor

Heriot-Watt University Students' Association

Edinburgh

17 September

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