There are two kinds of rubbish.
Both of them are nasty. The first is rubbish thrown into
dustbins. The second is rubbish thrown anywhere else. This
second kind of rubbish is called litter. But manufacturers
defending non-returnable, throw-away bottles, for example, argue
that litter is not their responsibility. The public are to blame.
In other words, litter does not become litter until it is thrown
away. Before that it is called packaging.
Packaging is big business. Everything we buy is wrapped up. How
many paper bags do you think the British use every day? The
answer is about twenty million. Most of us don't know about
these figures. We don't care about them, either. Manufacturers
insist that attractive packaging is vital to them.
Without it they could not sell their products. But returnable
bottles carrying a deposit are often used forty or fifty times.
Non-returnable bottles, which are used only once, are thrown
away. That is waste. Glass is valuable. Old glass makes new
glass. And just as old glass makes new glass, so other valuable
materials can be reclaimed from rubbish in waste separation and
recycling plants. That saves time, energy and resources.
The public don't seem to know this. The manufacturers don't,
either. But the experts have begun to recognise the problems
packaging creates. The Government has begun to recognise them,
too. We have got used to measuring our standard of living by the
quantities of materials we consume. We must change our yardstick.
If we don't, we'll soon be measuring it by the number of
dustbins we own.