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'I filled just one bag of rubbish in a whole year!' Extreme recycler keeps resolution to re-use nearly all his waste
John Newson composted or recycled most of his wasteSingle bag full of film packaging he has crammed into plastic bottlesRecycler says he wanted to 'push himself'
00:36 GMT, 1 January 2013
If you gave the dustmen a hefty tip this Christmas because you feel guilty about the amount of rubbish you put out, you might want to take a leaf out of John Newson’s book.
Yesterday he celebrated achieving his goal of producing only one bag of refuse in an entire year.
Mr Newson has picked through his leftovers every day since last New Year’s Day, putting all his uneaten food on a compost heap in his garden.
He does not eat meat or fish, and he grows his own salad and fruit to cut down on supermarket packaging.
Proud recycler John Newson with his only bag of rubbish in 2012, after he resolved to recycle or compost most of his waste
The 60-year-old also separates out
his cardboard, paper, plastic bottles, glass and cans for weekly
kerbside collections by the council – and because those items can then
be recycled, they don’t count towards his annual rubbish tally.
He even travels from his home in
Balsall Heath, Birmingham, to Bristol and London to recycle margarine
tubs and Tetra Pak juice cartons because he believes those cities have
better recycling facilities.
The single bin bag he has been left
with after 365 days of living as possibly the greenest householder in
Britain is full of plastic film packaging which he cannot recycle and
has been unable to find a use for in his home.
Mr Newson, who works as a
self-employed environmental re-searcher, said yesterday: ‘People ask,
“Why on earth are you doing this”
Back to the earth: John's resolution to compost waste meant that he was able to fill just one bag of rubbish for the year
Reaping the benefits: Through careful recycling and composting, John has been able to grow his own fruit. The 60-year-old says he understand it would be harder for larger households, but says Britain could improve its recycling habits
John says far too many plastic bags are being wasted in Britain
‘I just wondered, if you compost
absolutely everything that will rot and recycle everything you can, what
will you be left with
‘I wanted to push myself to an
extreme to see how far I could go. If you had six children and lots of
disposable nappies it would be different.
‘But I’m not doing this to score
points off any other household in Birmingham, I’m just asking what could
we feasibly get our recycling rate up to. I’d say that 80 to 90 per
cent of all waste can be composted or recycled. At the moment in Britain
it’s about 30 per cent.
‘There are 52 weeks in the year and
400,000 households across Birmingham, so that’s 20million plastic bin
bags that are being produced, distributed, collected and burned each
He added: ‘Recycling some things is
not that easy in Birmingham. I’ve taken some things, like drink cartons,
to the recycling centre but there’s a difference between what’s
possible and what’s convenient.’
Birmingham’s recycling rate of 31.5
per cent puts it in the bottom quarter of councils nationwide in terms
of recycling and waste management.
Bristol is one of the leading cities in the country, with a rate of around 50 per cent between April and June this year.
According to figures released by the
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, nearly 23million
tons of household waste was generated over 2011/12.