Waste and recycling are big concerns of mine. You can recycle an awful lot, but there is always some left over at the end – this is called ‘residual’ waste if you are a waste geek. At the moment it goes into landfill, which is not a sustainable long-term solution.
The question of what to do with residual waste is one that has occupied the council where I work (and doubtless plenty of others too) for many, many years. To incinerate or not to incinerate? And if you do incinerate, what form should the incineration take?
Stop right there! Abandon those years of research and consultation and that tendering process! My 10 year old son has come up with a solution. (Although it may need one or two minor tweaks…)
Like all his best ideas, it came when I was driving. I’m not the best driver in the world, so like to have all my senses on the road, rather than the far-fetched imaginings of a particularly random 10 year old boy. I was driving in silence, there had been no discussion on the topic.
But just in case any Cabinet members or people who make big planning decisions are reading, here it is…
‘I know what we should do with rubbish, we should send it to space.’
‘What, and just leave it floating around? I’m not sure how environmentally friendly that would be. And wouldn’t it just come back down?’
But he has an answer for everything. We could send it to Jupiter. What about the environmental implications and financial costs of space travel to Jupiter? And how frequently would you need to travel to Jupiter with all of the world’s rubbish?
There could be a ‘structure’ that would blast it off there. OK, how big would this structure need to be? Where would it be? I’m not sure the neighbours would be too happy about having it spoiling their landscape. And what about all those hundreds and thousands of miles by lorry or aeroplane to transport the rubbish to this ‘structure’?
OK, there could be one structure in every continent. Still a lot of road miles, still an awfully big structure…
OK, one structure in every country (Wales and Scotland are separate countries, Welsh and Scottish readers will be pleased to know), so we are down to hundreds of miles rather than thousands.
The structures would be on top of the highest mountains, so one on Ben Nevis, one on Snowdon etc. They would be ‘really big’.
Sod the fact that these structures are spoiling beautiful mountains and the surrounding areas and taking away the chance for people to walk there and enjoy them. Sod the fact that smelly lorries will be burning up copious amounts of diesel, pumping it into the air to transport the rubbish to these ‘structures’. Sod the amount of fuel and resulting environmental damage it is clearly going to take to blast the stuff ‘to Jupiter’. Sod the potential for further climate change caused by all of this.
So there you have it. An (almost) viable solution to the world’s waste problems.