A couple of years ago, the EU, our Lords and Masters, were kind enough to announce that in future we were allowed to switch some of our own money from the biscuit tin marked ‘Structural Fund Programme’ into the snazzy new biscuit tin marked ‘Urban Development Fund’. We were even to be permitted to raid some of the Local Authority Pension funds, and any unwary private investors we happened to scoop up along the way, and put their pennies into the glossy new tin.
The new tin was known as ‘Jessica’ for short or the ‘Joint European Support for Sustainable Investment in City Areas’ if you prefer wordy titles.
Boris Johnson promptly pulled ‘Jessica’ out of his hat and announced to a gasping world, or at least a few bored journalists, that ‘We are setting up a half a billion-pound green fund to leverage new green technology in the city.’ Excuse the hyperbole, it’s his, not mine.
What he meant was that he had found a way to raid £100 million from the London Development Agency. A figure that later dropped yet again, to £70 million, now entrusted to a City Hedge Fund, the Foresight Group, to spend on recycling projects. Keen on cycling, is our Boris.
This ‘ere £70 million is now expected to provide 100 new jobs [Ed. At £700,000 a piece? Isn’t the dole cheaper than that?] and reduce the capital’s carbon footprint by 28,000 tons. Exciting huh?
Apparently London produces 280,000 tons of plastic that currently ends up in landfill ‘and could be worth £140million a year! (Your head reeling yet? Mine is.)
Germany has already been through this process of recycling funds, and in common with London has a multitude of containers for your rubbish: a yellow one for packaging, a blue one for paper, two separate ones for different colours of glass, a brown one for plant waste and a black one for the little that is left over. Since they now had lots of recycled orange plastic, they are bringing in a new one for electronic waste….
Special machines with infra-red sensors discern six different types of plastic. But then something strange happens — more than half the yoghurt cups, plastic juice bottles and packaging foils are incinerated. That is quite legal. Under German law, only 36 percent of plastic rubbish has to be recycled.
What to do with the rest? Well, first they built municipal plants to burn the stuff; they didn’t have a lot of choice, since they were banned from putting it in landfill. They buy it from the recycling companies that only have to recycle 36 per cent, remember? Still wasn’t enough. So they transport it from other European countries and burn their yoghourt pots too. So much for the carbon footprint.
Some of the plastic rubbish does have a higher value; plant pot manufacturers make those strange non water retaining orange flower pots out of it (and orange recycling bins…) but the main company which does so is in tax efficient East Germany, since they wanted employment there – so the remaining yoghourt pots take one last journey all the way to East Germany, where they turn into flower pots for Dutch nurserymen – yes, they’re on the move again – who ship them over to the UK to be sold to wealthy Londoners to decorate their balconies.
Now Boris has discovered a way to stop Londoners putting their yoghourt pots and flowerpots into landfill, and will create 100 new jobs shipping them off to Germany to be burnt in the municipal plants – and it will all be managed by a City Hedge Firm, who say this is an ‘exciting global growth opportunity’.
Ah! Terracotta flowerpots that last for years, retain water for the plants, get handed down over the generations – but do they generate multi-million investment funds?
Remind me? Whose idea was it that food had to be shrink wrapped in plastic? Couldn’t have been an EU directive could it?