Sam Judd

Comment on the environment from nzherald.co.nz columnist Sam Judd

Sam Judd: The sweet sound of rubbish

11 comments

In a world where there seems to be so much doom and gloom about the environment it is nice to sometimes see a bit of good news pop out of the muck.

While it is true that a great number of ecosystems and people who live around them are affected by pollution, every now and then a light shines in from the smog that gives me a little hope.

In a small community built on top of a landfill in Paraguay, a group of inspiring people are making instruments from rubbish, which is giving the underprivileged youngsters a chance to feel proud of themselves.

This beautiful story provides an excellent example of how so much of what we throw away is actually valuable materials.

During educational presentations with school groups, businesses and offenders, I always
ask the question: "Why do we use a material that is designed to last forever (plastic) for so many things that are only used once?"

The reason plastics are polluting our system, getting into our food chain and killing animals is because they are so prevalent and cheap. Something that carries minimal value is much more likely to be littered.

The way of thinking that these Paraguayans employ is surely the way forward. We need to put the value back into our rubbish, especially plastics, but also other materials like aluminum, which require a lot of energy to produce.

Perhaps a way to put the value back into plastic would be to run container deposit legislation with full circle responsibility as they do in Germany. Over there you pay a bond for any packaging that you purchase and the producer is forced to give you the bond back when you return it to them. To me this makes perfect sense.

A system like this means that even if people are too lazy to deal with their rubbish, people who need money will clean the streets of all the rubbish, which will help them as well as everyone else.

When 'Comalco Cash for Cans' was around in New Zealand, school students used to pick up cans as a fundraiser and homeless people would grab stray ones from the streets.

This idea makes a lot of sense to me, but what do you think? Should we put a bond on plastic rubbish to take its true ecological cost into account?

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