Until a few years ago a trip to the local tip had been largely unchanged for decades. You drove up and joined a queue of cars waiting to dump stuff. Everyone pulled up alongside a low wall, over which the contents of the cars was thrown. Below, the rubbish piled up until it was collected and sent for landfill.
If you’ve not been to your local tip for a few years (in Greater Manchester at least) you’re in for a big surprise.
They’re now called “eco-centres” and with good reason – my local eco-centre at Longley Lane in Sharston recycled 54% of everything brought there in June, a figure I expect to see grow even further.
As you drive up now, you’ll see places for almost everything: paper, cardboard, books, clothes, floruescent strip lights, car batteries, TVs, furniture, oil, paint, rubble, metal, garden waste and more besides.
Amongst this sea of containers is one for “burnable waste” (i.e. items that can’t be recycled but can be incinerated to generate electricity) and finally one for the rest – which actually isn’t a huge amount.
The staff at Longley Lane are always helpful in telling you where things should go, and because the layout is so much better the whole business is quicker too. I can remember waiting half an hour or more in queues of cars to dump rubbish at the old-style tips. At Longley Lane the design is so much better that I almost never have to wait at all, and never more than a few minutes.
I suspect that our children will wonder in amazement that we ever thought simply chucking everything over the side and burying it in a big hole in the ground was a sensible thing to do!