Posts Tagged ‘Trash legislation’

Sweden: Export an illegal fridge and go to jail

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Swedish Government seems to want to make an example, as the Cabinet later today will initiate drafting of a new law that would make it easier to send illegal exporters of electric and electronic tra$h, which we know is a global and profitable business, to court. The new law is also supposed to make it easier for law enforcement to press charges against individuals in the tra$h business for attempted smuggling (right now, the tra$h must leave Sweden for things to become illegal, making it a lot more complicated process for authorities to engage in).

While there will be a while before we see actual proposed legislation, I applaud this, but think that we should also recognize that this is a symptom that cooperation between police forces of involved countries should be strengthened. We can’t just add new legislation to cure an inefficient collaborative environment. International Trash Police Summit now, please!

Can you see the trash?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Swedish Public Radio programme P3 Kultur today broadcasted an interview with me about garblogging, introducing me as a person “living a contemporary Mad Men-life as advocate and zeitgeist surfer in the capital of the World”. In other words, garbloggers are the it thing. We are still waiting to be invited to those rooftop pools though…

Our brief discussion centered around garblogging in general, and the differences in trash culture in the US and West Europe. I would say the most obvious thing is visibility of trash. Back home, our trash is well hidden in facilities that are always in close proximity (if not within) residential buildings. Over here, trash bags are all over the street every night (at this time of year, quite smelly, yes?).

Having lived in both places, I have to say that neither approach seems to make people more or less aware of the problems with our trash, which I must say is a rather intriguing insight. My conclusion is still that while public opinion and individual responsibility matters, legislation and regulation is the way to go. This comes, of course, from a belief that markets and our planet alike will do better while being under certain legislative restraints. In more blunt words, the invisible hand does not recycle. Would love other opinions on this, do comment!

(Also, apologizing for mishearing the program host, I accidentally replied ‘yes’ to the question ‘if I was living in Manhattan?’, I thought she asked were I was at the time. I, of course, live in Brooklyn.)

Its up to your landlord!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Treehugger reports that proposed legeslation in San Francisco opens for harsh fines for residential and commercial building owners who fail to make sure trash from their tenants is recycled, and recylced properly. According to Treehugger, such legislation exists in several places already in the US, but not with fines.

Makes me think of yesterday, when a note was posted at my front door. Intrigued as you always are by notes, I read it, although it was addressed to my landlord. It turned out to be notice of a $300 fine for placing plastic for recycling on the curb on the wrong day of the week.

This focus on building owners is very different to my homeland of Sweden, where, as I have described earlier, the responsability for recycling lies with the individual person. And they say we’re the commies..

No punishment for breaking tra$h laws

Sunday, May 17, 2009

The Swedish Public Radio reports that Sweden, after two years, has yet to stipulate punishment levels for breaking the European Union imposed legislation that prohobits tra$h smuggling to developing countries. Hence, there’s no knowing what to do with a container of illegal refrigerators that was confiscated this Friday by border authorities, and no way of knowing what to do with the persons trying to send it off to Uganda. Well done, parliament.

The Bulky Trash Watchman

Sunday, March 22, 2009

My folks housing cooperative have a long standing internal battle against people in the cooperative not taking responsability for the recycling routines. In short, many choose to throw more or less everything in the room reserved for bulky trash (such as furniture), resulting in high costs for the cooperative when trash workers sort out the refrigerators and bottles from the couches and bags of old clothes.

This unruly behaviour has now come to an end. The board of the cooperative have put in place a harsh and virtually impenetrable line of defense: The Bulky Trash Watchman. Before this new regime, everyone had their own keys to the room, and could sneek down with their illegal trash at 4am in the morning without being noticed. No more. Now there’s one key, possessed by a man dubbed the Bulky Trash Watchman of the block.

Instead of being a 24-hour room, the bulky trash room os now open Sundays 7pm-8pm. The Watchman stands, with a grim look upon his face, inside the room and carefully eyes your bulky trash before nodding and directing you to place it next to whatever is in there already. The eagle eyes of the Watchman sees all attempts of cheating, and will happily share the regulations on what stuff goes in the room, and where one should recycle trash deemed unworthy.

Needless to say, the costs for recycling for the housing cooperative have dropped dramatically in a very short space of time. Good proof that regulation and big brother might need to step in when we oh-so-earthfriendly citizens talk the talk, but fail to walk the walk.

Producer responsibility

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

dumpstertaoist made a great point in a comment to my former post, and I have the fantastic Swedish holier-than-thou reply! This should probably have gone in the original post, but I actually forgot about it. When one takes things for granted…

Anyways, here goes: Back in Sweden, manufacturers are governed by what’s called “the Producer responsibility”. It essentially means that companies selling products that will end up as garbage are responsible for the collection and disposal of their discarded products. The producer responsibility law stipulates companies obligations in five areas:

  • Packaging
  • Tyres
  • Newsprint
  • Vehicles
  • Electrical and electronic products

You can read more, in english, at the web of the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency! Among other things, check out the Waste Council.

Swedish recycling crimes

Friday, January 30, 2009

Living in Sweden, one gets used to recycling. “To not recycle” is one of the things you just don’t_do, should you want to be able to blend in with your average crowd of people. We take it very seriously. A few years ago, municipal authorities brought a 77-year old woman to court for failing to recycle a frying pan in the correct manner, and last year a police candidate was fined for placing a cat litter box outside the plastic recycling container, instead of inside. [The links are in Swedish, so most of the readers will have to take my word for it.]

There are many examples like this, all made possible by a system of Garbage Spies, who stand guard at public recycling stations (undercover), and document wrongdoings. The Garbage Spies however, claim that highlighting the 77-year old woman makes them look stupid (yathink?), and that their work is focused on finding people who dump big things, say 20 gallons of frying oil without permission.

I myself find this highly amusing, but at the same time I’m a staunch supporter of Garbage Spies. Abusing your recycling systems should cost you! Inspired by their great deeds I did some private investigations today, at the recycling station in my house. Noted that several people have put non-coloured glass in the container for coloured glass and that there’s lots of plastic in the wrong places. Scandalous! I will be filing a report.

Supposed to be for coloured glass only

Supposed to be for coloured glass only

In the electronics bin, I found a vacuum cleaner, a television and a pair of speakers. Clearly someone’s been upgrading their gear. Was probably  necessary, the dumped television wasn’t even flat screen… And to finish off this first proper own post of mine, I’m most curious about other recycling cultures? Tell us in the comments section please!

Discarded television et. al.

Discarded television et. al.


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