Glasgow has a problem with recycling.
The city is clearly missing its recycling targets and is still dumping way too much rubbish into landfills.
That costs the city money.
The council has provided containers for cardboard and plastic recycling, bottles and also containers for food waste.
CONTINUE READING:Glasgow City Council responds to garbage complaints
It seems that few were excited about the idea of storing your food waste in a caddy and then throwing it in a larger trash can outside.
Many complained of fly infestations when they were introduced and as a result, most people do not use the leftover food.
Then there are the big blue recycling bins and the green residual waste bins.
The green bins are now picked up every three weeks, while the blue ones are picked up every two weeks.
The idea is, and the Council is open on this, to force people to recycle more. If you notice that your green bin is full before the three weeks, you will throw recyclable materials in the blue bin.
More waste is recycled, the community spends less on landfills and the garbage cans are still collected.
Everyone is happy.
There is one problem with this idea, however, one downer.
Much of what we buy cannot be recycled.
One of the other environmental ambitions of the community is the 20 minute neighborhood where everything you need is within a 20 minute walk or bike ride of your home.
Another behavior change that we are encouraged to make is to eat fruits and vegetables five times a day.
So I took a trip to three supermarkets within 20 minutes to check the recycling situation for fresh fruit and vegetables.
In most supermarkets, it is the first section you come to upon entering.
It didn’t take long to see that packaging is still a huge problem.
The packaging industry has resisted attempts at change for decades.
In Morrisons, one of the three supermarkets, there were hardly any fresh fruits and vegetables that came off and they were wrapped in plastic that is not recyclable.
Most of the apples, peppers, tomatoes, cabbage, lettuce, cauliflower, broccoli, onions, pak choi, green beans, and leeks were in plastic bags.
And everyone said: “Do not recycle”.
For the few that were available in bulk, like peppers, apples, and tomatoes, you will be financially punished for making environmentally friendly choices.
Loose peppers are 45 pence each. If you buy three in a “do not recycle” bag, it will cost you 38.4p each.
Apples are the same.
Braeburn apples bought in bulk cost 35 pence per apple. If you buy six in a “do not recycle” bag, it will cost you 24.9 pence per apple.
Tomatoes are also more expensive to buy in bulk, as are onions. There were no loose potatoes.
The only vegetables that weren’t more expensive without packaging were carrots, which were the same price either way.
Off to Lidl, not far away and yet by bike in my 20-minute neighborhood.
Not much different.
Peppers Celery, Cabbage, Broccoli Apples Peaches Pears Potatoes All in non-recyclable bags.
Some were available in bulk, but were also more expensive.
Loose peppers are 42 pence each, but in a Don’t Recycle bag they cost 27. That is quite a difference.
CONTINUE READING: Paul Sweeney and Susan Aitken argue over the “garbage crisis” in Glasgow
Here, too, carrots were just as expensive either way. What’s up Doc?
Bread is in plastic bags that say they can’t be recycled at home.
The third supermarket in the 20-minute zone was Sainsbury’s.
They were much better, both in terms of loose availability and no price difference.
Carrots were again as expensive as peppers and leeks, whether they were wrapped or loose.
Broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and potatoes have all loosened too.
There was a difference for some fruits: apples were 3.3p more expensive while loose pears were 12p per pear, but they were different types of pear.
So in the specific example I am not comparing pears with pears.
The other leading supermarket brands were outside of my 20 minute neighborhood so I couldn’t compare them and can’t comment on their recycling.
However, it seems clear that both the availability of recyclable packaging and the affordability of loose fresh produce when available are a problem.
While the Council and Government are urging households to change their behavior, they also need to put more pressure on manufacturers and retailers to reduce the amount of waste before it gets into our shopping baskets and shopping carts.
Morrisons has announced that in 2019 it will have special areas for buying loose fruits and vegetables in 63 stores, offering up to 127 loose varieties.
A spokeswoman said: “In 2020 we will expand the range of this range to 332 of our 497 branches so that more customers can benefit from plastic-free alternatives.”
She acknowledged that while the store I visited “doesn’t have that many varieties, there are still opportunities for customers to purchase loose fruits and vegetables.”
She added, “The minimum size and weight of the loose pepper are larger than the prepackaged.