Readers of a certain age will remember all too well the landfill sites that used to be a common blot of the landscape.
Ugy, smelly, possibly health hazards, they were extreme examples of our throw away culture.
We chucked stuff in the bin without a second thought.
Recycling was something to do with bikes and pedal power.
Fast forward a few decades and we can only marvel at the technological advances that are allowing yesterday’s non-recyclable rubbish to heat our homes, workplaces and leisure centres today.
The biggest customer of Veolia’s Bernard Road energy recovery centre is the University of Sheffield where 50 buildings are powered by the city’s rubbish that has been turned into electricty.
It’s amazing to think that in just six years the amount of rubbish sent to landfill has reduced from 30,935 tonnes to 6,077.
So much of what was junk left to fester is now being put to good use with some 225,000 tonnes turned into energy every year, It comes from commercial sources and other councils, but half of it comes from our own black bins.
Generating our own energy from rubbish is another diversification of our energy supply, which has expanded to include renewable sources as we aim to lessen our reliance on traditional sources.
Veolia’s aim is to make Sheffield a “zero landfill” city.
At the current rate of progress that could be any time soon.
Council bosses say that the city sent the least amount of rubbish to landfill in the world; amazing! We’re already known as one of the greenest cities in the UK, if not the greenest.
And we’re also aiming to be the UK’s fittest city, so there’s a chance of completeing a unique double.
But there’s always room for improvement of course and we could look again at the household recycling scheme, good though it is.
Making green bins for garden rubbish free, as they are in other South Yorkshire local authorities, would be a welcome move to boost recycling further.