The Right to Recycle

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…

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.

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.

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?

2 thoughts on “The Right to Recycle

  1. Hi Olly ha ha, I see you have fallen foul of the council worker frighten of getting the ,more than my jobs worth hat . I fell foul of them in the past. First time was when i was a self employed Maintenance, I hadn’t been doing it for a great deal of time and getting started money was tight I Only had my then works vehicle a Renault traffic high side which was loaded with old match boarding which i had ripped out for a new kitchen refit . but the client had agreed to dispose of himself I had finished the job early so agree to help him to dispose of it all at the recycling center using my van haha ha. what a joke.

    No sooner had we arrived when up come jobs worth your trade, your trade he kept saying, my client was with me he explained the situation, no your trade, your trade your trade you cant dump that here, so I says to him look either we dump it here now or we bring it back tomorrow in my client car, your trade your trade , ok so we came back the next day in his car several loads jobs worth stood by use all the time absolutely fuming not being able to do anything about it. ha ha made my day.

    Second time I had changed the van to a small seat as the old Renault was worn out, it had been a long very tiring week, Saturday morning I went to cut the lawn and the mower had given up the ghost, So without thinking chucked it in the van drove to the recycling center no sooner had I opened the van door Jobs worth appeared from nowhere your trade your trade again, grrrrr I literally exploded i just grabbed the mower dragging it out the van swinger in a circular movement and let it go flying across there yard shouting a load of abuse at him at that time, I seem to remember saying this is my only vehicle I am a tax payer and I have rights as a citizen to dispose of my own rubbish do what the f ***k you like about it, got back in the van and drove ,away never heard anything about it.

    COMPLETE AND UNNECESSARY RED TAP WASTING TAXPAYER MONEY. your neighbour can do the same job in his house and can produce the same waste and is allowed to dispose of it no questions ask why?

    1. Martin these guys are just trying to do their jobs; they may seem like jobsworths to you, but it’s them who get it in the neck if they’re not seen to be doing their job properly. Of course the situation where you can bring trade waste back in a client’s car is ridiculous, but they’re simply working under the rules they’ve been told to.
      Technically speaking, since that’s an abuse of the system (disposing of trade waste under the pretence of being residential) then you’re the one ‘wasting’ – or at least abusing – taxpayers’ money, though I do appreciate your reason for it.

      It is clearly (I think) desirable to have free waste(/recycling) disposal for residential purposes to avoid fly-tipping or recyclable stuff going to landfill. For business purposes it makes sense to recover some of the (large) cost of waste & recyclable materials processing through the business responsible for generating the waste. Personally I think that’s fair, though I appreciate that as a small business owner the overheads are probably much more significant. I don’t know whetehr costs take this into account or not, but I would hope they do.

      The main thing is that businesses and individuals should not have the same privileges – individuals should (I think) always have more privileges than businesses. I guess for sole traders it seems less fair because you as an individual *are* the business, but I still stand by my opinion on the different responsibilities and privileges.

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