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The Right to Recycle

By Ollypj @OllyPJ

Earlier today, when I got home from work, I wanted to get out in to the workshop and to get myself in the mood to at least finish off a few loose ends that have been hanging around for too many weeks now. Upon opening the door, I was reminded that the wood bin was already flowing, I had a box-full of shavings that needed to be disposed of and my bin bag of non-recyclable/general waste was pretty much full. With the odds and ends sat in disorder on the drive as well, this meant taking a trip to the local tip (sorry, ‘recycling centre’) before I could get on with anything properly.

Making an effort to clean your works space can often be beneficial. It would make a lot of sense if I was consistent in doing this at the end of every work session but, I too often leave things for return, at a time when I just want to be able to close the door and get on with things…

The Right to Recycle

My van – back when it was new (to me) in 2011.

Anyway. No sooner had I arrived at the site with barely a boot-full of waste for disposal (I usually carry a lot more), I was greeted by one of the staff members as I pulled over for my first stop at the bay for small electrical items…

He was curious to investigate my vehicle (a Renault Kangoo car-derived van), as he also informed me that they now have a ‘van permit’ system in operation. What this basically means is that you’re not allowed to visit a recycling centre (at least in North Somerset) either driving a van or towing a larger trailer, without a permit that’s been granted to you by the council.

I’m not surprised that something like this has come in to force, as these places are often wary and having to deal with tradesmen and contractors attempting to dump commercial waste (as opposed to household). I was more surprised that I hadn’t heard about it already. It came in to action on the 30th of September although, the initial plans were to apparently begin this back in July.

So, I’m in the middle of submitting my online application. If successful, I will be able to visit a recycling centre up to twelve times within a one-year period. After that, I assume you have to reapply but that ‘restriction’ suits me well, as it’s rare that I visit the tip more than once a month anyway.

The Right to Recycle

Two seats, a wheelchair ramp and that ‘loading space’ in the back.

For as long as I’ve had this van (closing in on three-years now), I’ve been in constant fear that someone would one day come over and question my presence given the appearance of my vehicle. For even longer, as a woodworker, and even with a hatchback car in the years before; I feared that someone would question the regularity of my trips to dispose of mostly wood… But it’s always been okay. As I was told earlier on, staff are usually able to allow certain vans in without a permit. A typical example would be a Citroen Berlingo-type van (very similar to mine) with seats in the back… Now, my van does have two seats in the back but with the ‘loading space’ between them and the rear doors (saved for wheelchair access), it raises a question about whether or not I need a permit for future visits and if I am even eligible for one.

(Even if I am able to get my hands on a “permit” (such an American term), I have every intention of trying to sell this van in the new year, having just spent over £400 ‘fixing things’ in the past month alone.)

But for people driving flat-bed pickups, transit vans and towing larger trailers; those perhaps looking to dispose of the odd bed or washing machine for a friend or neighbour perhaps; I can see it causing some bother. I mean, does waste from the ‘Man with a Van‘ type of role qualify for commercial rubbish?

People who are in a trade have frequently told me that they believe these centres should be open for all to use for disposal. The other side to this is that it might encourage fly-tipping, where certain people may not be willing (or able) to pay for the correct disposal. That argument’s open for debate and argument, I think. One of the reasons North Somerset council are apparently bringing this in to force it because it costs them more to dispose of the added refuse.

The Right to Recycle

All that space and it can still only just manage half a sheet of ply.

I’m all for encouraging people to use sites like Freecycle and Gumtree (in the UK) to dispose of unwanted bits without having to leave their home (in my experience, people will provide a second home for almost anything – you really would be surprised) but I don’t believe that holds a long term solution. It certainly wouldn’t suit every person or every need.

Thanks for reading. I’d be interested to hear of your own experiences in attempts to dispose of waste and also, if you’re in the UK, whether a similar permit scheme is enforced within your region?

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