I like to think I’m doing my bit for the environment by assiduously recycling everything that I can. Such is the plethora of well-meaning advice that we are inundated with that it is often difficult to sort out the wheat from the chaff.
And this seems to be a problem that is besetting the recycling plants that the detritus of our modern lifestyle is delivered to.
Take aluminium cans. There is something deeply satisfying about crushing a can before putting it into the recycling bin. As well as the marvellous crunching sound pleasing my aesthetic sensibilities, the mangled can takes up less room in the bin.
But, I learned this week, it buggers up the system.
The majority of refuse sorting plants dump all of the refuse on to one conveyor belt and rely on a machine, which recognises items by its shape and material, to sort it out into the appropriate bins. However, it cannot cope with a mangled can and sticks it into the non-recyclable pile.
Either the machinery needs to be consigned to the scrapheap or we will have to change our habits.
To paraphrase Aristotle, you can’t do right for doing wrong.