At my local recycling centre the majority of stuff brought in seems still to go to landfill because it is mixed (e.g. plastic and metal). In the third world recycling rates often approach 90% because of rubbish pickers who break just about everything into usable constituent parts. Clearly, with staff on at least minimum wage, it is not in the interest of most of the waste handling companies to, for example, separate the metal from the wood on an old trouser press I found in my loft – which went to landfill. But someone on  community service could have separateed the wood and the metal. Further, there has been a great deal of complaint about people on CS (community payback etc.) not actually doing anything. Rather than measuring hours of elapsed time which may or may not represent any real work, offenders could be sentenced to recover a certain weight, volume or value of material from items that would otherwise go to landfill. This would result in a fairer punishment (if you do no work, your "sentence" doesn't go down) , no loss of jobs at recycling sentence and a considerable reduction in materials going to landfill. With a nationwide scheme all kinds of materials could be collected that are currently not always used e.g. rag, type 5 plastic etc.

Why is this idea important?

Increase recylcing; provdies measurable community service for offenders; visible less pleasant work for the public and would contribute real value.

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