It seems that, since the Chinese stopped taking our plastic waste, we have all suddenly become very conscious of the problem of disposal of plastic items, and we have become very aware of the extent to which the seas are being polluted by plastic waste. We were quite content to send our recycled waste to China but the cynic might suspect that the Chinese recycled that which was easy to recycle and dumped the rest – in the sea?
We are beginning to realize that disposal of plastic is a problem that needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency, but there is little evidence as yet that the government is taking it seriously. It is claimed that much of our plastic waste finishes up in the sea, how can that be? Surely we are not deliberately dumping it there ourselves? But what can we do? There are only three things that can be done with waste after extracting all recyclable material; burn it, bury it or dump it in the sea. We do have strict limits, imposed by the EU, on the amount of waste that we can put in to land-fill. I am not sure why, but it does seem to me that that is by far the best thing we could do with plastic. Burning it produces serious toxins and we can’t put it in the sea. Ideally, of course, recycling is the best solution for plastic but, at present, it seems, it is not economic with many of the plastics and may not even be practical.
There needs to be greater pressure applied, by legislation if necessary, on the manufacturers of plastics to produce plastics that are either suitable for economic recycling or decomposition. It should be illegal for bags used for bin liners not to be of a decomposable type. Efforts such as stopping the use of plastic coated coffee cups are all very well but it is only scratching the surface. Plastics are far too useful to contemplate banning their use but some solutions to the problem of waste must be found.
Plastics are not the only problem of waste disposal, the truth is that we are becoming an increasingly wasteful society, many things that we purchase we only keep for a limited time. Many items become obsolete quite quickly, these days people change furniture, and carpets etc, car tyres wear out but the remains are still very much like a car tyre, there is electronic equipment from TVs to laptops that are regularly dumped. Previous generations who did not have plastic bags would make do with paper and cardboard, they would make their furniture last a lifetime and then pass it to the next generation. Each of us produces very much more waste than our forebears, but that is not the only problem, there are very many more of us globally and to make it worse, the developing countries are becoming more like us and producing more waste per head. One can get quite depressed thinking about where the world is going.
I mentioned car tyres but it isn’t just the tyres that wear out, in the end the whole car has to be disposed of. This problem was identified a few years ago and there is a requirement on motor manufacturers to make the major part of a car recyclable, they could probably do more. Why do we not apply the same principle to all manufactured goods. Shouldn’t we require all manufacturers of disposable items to explain how they can be disposed of in an environmentally acceptable way?
It is clear that governments worldwide must take action if the human race is not to drown in its own waste.
In the past I have argued, to some extent, in support of Russia’s actions in Crimea and Ukraine. There is no doubt in my mind that there are those in the West who have no wish to be on better terms with Russia, in an American book that I read recently Russia was openly described as ‘the enemy’. The West has pursued policies of putting pressure on Russia, looking for excuses to impose sanctions with the aim of damaging their economy. It is as though they are trying to twist the bear’s tail (if bears have tails), are they trying to provoke them into military action, surely not, but they are certainly doing their best to ensure that we can’t be friends. Oddly, I think, the UK has been the loudest in its efforts to discredit Russia, our Secretary of Defence Gavin Williamson has been particularly vociferous, on occasions making himself look silly, he has now claimed that the world is becoming a “darker more dangerous place”, it all looks as though he is trying to frighten people so that further aggressive actions may be acceptable, and it was also rather odd, I thought, the way in which the UK led the cries of ‘Assad must go’, but they have gone rather quiet now.
Having said all that, I offer no support whatsoever for the attack on Mr Skripal in Salisbury and I accept that it is most likely that the nerve agent came from Russia. Unfortunately it has not been possible to prove the source. It was an unforgivable act, attempting to harm Skripal by that means regardless of the risk to the lives of others, but Russia has been particularly strong in its claims that they were not responsible and, with the lack of any proof, there are nagging doubts.
I do suspect that there has been an attempt to exaggerate the danger to others, some of the actions, such as washing clothes, closing off areas etc came so late that those at risk would surely have been affected beforehand. Did we hope to encourage our allies to support us by making more of the incident? Certainly one would expect some reaction from us at such an attack, but Mrs May managed to whip up very strong support across almost all western nations, but then maybe some of our allies saw it as another opportunity to get at Putin, maybe this time he asked for it.
In the past President Trump has said that the US should aim to be friends with Russia, clearly there are many Americans in positions of influence who do not agree. It would be nice to hear our government say that we should endeavour to be friends.
It is very sad when one hears of someone self harming, and it is very sad when one sees a country self harming, and it is particularly sad when it is your own country. When will we wake up to the madness of Brexit?