In the UK, as of June 2011, due to cuts in public funding by the government, rubbish collection has caused a number of problems. Currently, in some places, rubbish is now collected only once every 2 weeks. This means that people’s bins tend to overflow and they can’t even throw their rubbish away any more. It also means that animals have more chance to forage through the rubbish for food, leaving a mess on the ground which people obviously don’t want.
Instead of seeing this as a problem, we can see it as a big opportunity. People can start up their own enterprises where they collect the rubbish for the public and ask for a small fee in return. Even just 50p or £1 per household per week would soon mount up for the workers yet it would be small change to each member of the public.
But what to do with the rubbish? Recycle it, of course. You will have organic waste, to use for making compost, glass which can be used for local food production, and paper and plastic which can be sold to firms to re-use to cut their own costs and the cost on the environment.
This would take some organisation but if it could and should be split into groups who work their own territory. Group A collects from 50 streets in one area, B from another 50 and so on, that all groups have agreed on together. This makes it more manageable for each group so that they meet their deadlines and don’t have the public getting annoyed because they don’t collect rubbish when they say they will. It means more opportunities for more people. It may be dirty work but it’s a valuable task and each group would own it themselves and earn the money that they work for.
The groups would need to ask the public to separate their rubbish to make it easier to sort, and clean it as much as possible. You can’t recycle dirty packaging so the public should be asked to take part in this initiative.
It will still need to be washed to be sure however, so the groups could build their own machines if they can’t afford one to do the job. One idea I had is to construct a basic washing machine type container that sends water through and is connected to a motor that is powered by a bicycle! This is to give force to the water to agitate the plastic and therefore clean it like a washing machine would do. I thought of this as a way to save energy costs for the enterprise as well as an opportunity to use one’s initiative.
Obviously, buyers for the recycled materials would need to be found but that all depends on what there is in your locality.
In terms of what the local council might think about this; if they don’t have the funds to manage rubbish collection, hopefully they would be in favour of this kind of enterprise to start up. You would need to ask them of course, to reach an agreement on how it could work but the important thing to keep in mind is not to challenge the local council but to work in collaboration with them. Divides, rifts and arguments are never going to allow things to run smoothly and any animosity might cause the council to prohibit your business to even start.
To collect the money from the public, you can just go round each house once a week, showing your badge that means your are legitimate (plus the people will get to know you). It will probably be down to those who choose to pay for your service and those ones should do so because they know about its philosophy. If someone never seems to be in when you go to collect the money, after 5 times, leave the a note saying you won’t be collecting their rubbish any more. Don’t make a big deal out of it, though. It’s not going to make anything better.