Thursday 10 May 2012

Recolha Seletiva

Q. When is glass not glass?
A. When it's a glass.

Let me explain. You know how men don't read the instructions (whereas women read the instructions and then ask their husbands how you do it anyway)? Well I was caught red-handed on this front last week for having blithely imagined that the glass pictured above (free gift with bottle of juice hence urgent need to dispose of the wretched thing) would be eligible for removal on the glass collection day of the new recolha seletiva (literally "selective collection") regime in place on Flores and whisked off to the brand new Centro de Processamento e Valorização Orgânica de Residuos das Flores so big it can be seen from space.

As is no doubt the international standard, it's paper in the blue bucket, glass in the green and plastic and metal in the yellow. Glass and plastic/metal is collected every Wednesday whereas paper is every first and third Thursday of the month (not too much of a problem on an island with no newspapers). Collection of indifferenciado organico ("miscellaneous organic") - i.e. potato peelings - continues to be every Monday and Friday.

Anyway, what we've noticed is that the vast majority of our cack is plastic and metal (once a week) whereas very little of it is indifferenciado organico (twice a week) on account of how Carol composts the potato peelings. Don't for a minute imagine from that we're some sort of hippy-dippy, tree hugging, Independent reading, lah-di-dah, namby-pamby, lefty-liberal, don't send our children to school (if we had any which thank heavens we don't) eco-warriors - very far from it. It's just that Carol thinks the compost is good for her tomatoes. Personally, I think compost is like spinach - you start out with great armfuls of the stuff but once it's cooked, you're left with a teaspoonful and wonder why you bothered. But I digress, where was I?

Oh yes - I was somewhat taken aback last Wednesday when there was knock at the door and the chap who's second in command of recolha seletiva pointed out that there had been extracted from our cack and left neatly on the pavement (I wish I'd had the presence of mind to take a picture) the glass at the top of this post along with a bunch of plastic flowers (stiffened with metal wire) and a metal grill thing. He pointed out (perfectly politely and slightly apologetically) that these items should be put out with the indiferenciados organicos (potato peelings) on Friday.

I was so astonished, I didn't argue but when I got back inside and consulted the instructions (above) - which I hadn't bothered to read - I found the chap was quite right. It's only plastic and metal embalagens - wrappings - which are allowed (hence the plastic flowers and grill being vetoed) and specifically excluded under the vidro (glass) section are copos - glasses.

Does anyone know the scientific reason for a drinking glass being any less eligible for recycling than a perfume bottle (specifically included in the instructions)? I wish now I'd gone along to the sessão de esclarecimento which was held in the casa de povo (village hall) on the day the recycling was rolled out to find out.

I have to say, we'd taken to recolha seletiva with fair gusto but this set-back has sort of inhibited us a bit. Only today, I had to rebuke Carol for having put a plastic dishwashing brush in the plasticos e metais bucket instead of the indiferenciados organicos - it's plastic alright, but not a wrapping, you see? I wonder if there have been any empirical academic studies about whether the pristine purity of a melange of Coke tins and shampoo bottles is really so badly tainted by the odd dish brush (or plastic flower) that it's worth disheartening folk in this way and risking distracting them from the cause?



Kathie said...

Just a wild guess, that there's some ingredient in the material from which the drinking glass is manufactured that is inappropriate for recycling.

Re plastics: Do yours have a little number (inside a triangle) indicating which category it is? Where we live, only 1 and 2 are recyclable (the rest go to the landfill), although elsewhere higher numbers are also recyclable.

Off-topic: Did you catch Prince Charles doing the weather report on the noon news at Scotland's BBC TV studio? Although his professional skills obviously set includes decades of public speaking (and concomitant TelePrompter™ reading), he nonetheless acquitted himself admirably, especially on the ad libs.

Did I ever mention to you that Marisa and I finally met at the Lusofonia conference in Lagoa, São Miguel, last month? Thanks for providing the forum for us to have found one another.

Marisa said...

ehehhe, always a surprise these posts. Didn't know that...and still don't... as far as I'm concerned plastic goes to plastic and glass goes to glass ;)
Hi Kathie, yes you had already mentioned that :)

Kathie said...

Neil & Carol, Perhaps the problem with the glass has to do with the substance with which it's painted?

Marisa, Sorry if I repeat myself, repeat myself... ;-)))