Malcolm Bates on Food Waste, Roadside Debris and Spaceships

COMMENT: Living on Mars? Who Will Collect the Garbage?

Malcolm Bates wonders if it wouldn’t it be better for us to look after the planet we already have before we contemplate moving to Mars?

Opinion blog Malcolm Bates
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Malcolm Bates wonders if it wouldn’t it be better for us to look after the planet we already have before we contemplate moving to Mars?

To be honest, I wasn’t really listening to my car radio at the time. After all, the news over recent weeks had been a depressing cocktail of tensions over North Korea, who the latest White House staffer is to have been fired (as if the rest of us really care!) and more recently, the tragic aftermath of both man-made (Like the Grenfell Tower fire in London, England) and natural disasters (From mudslides in South America, floods in Texas and hurricanes in th Caribean) that have befallen our Planet.

So was an item suggesting that in the future, mankind should up sticks and move to another planet designed to lift our spirits? It’s a well-trodden theme of science fiction of course, but from what I gather, this item was serious. It suggested Mars was the best option and...

“Hang on a minute” I shouted out loud while stuck in busy traffic. “Wouldn’t it be better if we looked after the planet we already have?”

Clearly, the worried-looking truck driver next to me couldn’t answer that question. But then seemingly, nor can anyone else in our political elite. For example, we cant even seem to agree on a common system to collect and utilise foodwaste - even though half the planet doesn't get enough of it (food, that is), while the other half wastes it in Industrial portions.

Yet taking foodwaste - and moisture - out of the general waste stream is probably the most useful thing we can do in our industry. But ask three professionals for their idea of ‘Best Practice’ and, chances are, you’ll get four answers.

Come on - how hard can it be?

Here’s another waste-related issue that neither our politicians are seemingly still unable to solve. It’s now normal for motorists and truck drivers mostly, but children and teenagers as well, to eat and drink on the move.

The resulting debris gets thrown by the side of the road without thinking of what it costs to clear up. The answer? ‘Education’ has clearly failed. The threat of greater fines? Unlikely because detection is ineffective. So can ‘technology’ help here?

Instead of relying on manual labour, could a new breed of vacuum machine designed to collect roadside litter and fly-tipped material from verges help? And why cant someone design a truly effective foodwaste collection ‘system’ including the household bins? Sealed ‘vacuum pack’ modules perhaps?

My point? The waste industry is hardly rocket science is it? But call me old fashioned - I wouldn’t want to ride to another planet on a spacecraft built by a civilisation who couldn’t even master the problems of roadside debris or foodwaste here on earth, first. Would you?

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