We could be missing valuable resource

PUBLISHED: 11:41 06 December 2007 | UPDATED: 13:07 04 May 2010

I MUST congratulate you on the lively debate in your Letters page on Mereham. It has been most entertaining. However, it is the recycling debate which has caused me to write to you. I have noticed that the local politicians have been trying to prove that

I MUST congratulate you on the lively debate in your Letters page on Mereham. It has been most entertaining.

However, it is the recycling debate which has caused me to write to you. I have noticed that the local politicians have been trying to prove that they, and, of course, their parties, occupy the virtuous high ground and in the process, as usual, making themselves appear pompous and ridiculous.

As someone who willingly admits to having no expertise on rubbish, various questions occur to me.

How do they know what percentage of rubbish is recycled? I suspect that in rural areas, such as this, a very high percentage of compostable garden and kitchen waste are composted at home, this would obviously distort the figures. I doubt that there is any way that this can be accounted for.

Can anyone explain why fortnightly collections of rubbish would increase the recycling percentages? Could it be just the result of the rubbish rotting down over two weeks or is it just one of those 'supposed facts' that get bandied about which, in this case, just happens to justify money saving reductions in frequency of collection. It seems to me to defy logic to suppose that collecting my rubbish fortnightly would increase the amount that I recycled.

Could it be that the real problem lies with the local waste authority not tackling the problem of landfill with imagination? In some parts of the country, the domestic rubbish is incinerated, reducing lorry loads of rubbish to shovelfuls of ash, and the heat is used to generate electricity (as in the North London Waste Authority) or to provide residents with cheap hot water and central heating (as, I understand, in Lerwick in the Shetland Isles). Landfill produces methane which, I am told, is many times more damaging as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. Thus burning the rubbish not only yields useful energy but also reduces the greenhouse effect.

Taking this all a step further, I recall seeing photographs of cars, during the war, being powered by gas with large gas bags on top of the car. I have always understood that that this gas came from the sewage works. I don't think that any attempt is made now to harvest this resource.

I understand that Ely needs a new larger sewage works; could this be an ideal time for Ely to investigate if it is possible to install a modern plant to extract the latent energy contained in the sewage which, I guess, would be in the form of gas, which could also be used to generate electricity?

I Robertson

Ely

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