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Not a lot of people know this, but ...

landfill siteLocal councils have the power to get really tough with anyone who ignores their commandments on recycling. Barnet Borough Council in north London, for instance, did quite well with a voluntary recycling scheme for refuse. So the council's garbologists decided to extend their influence by making recycling compulsory in four of the borough's wards from April 1st (no, it's not supposed to be an April Fool joke). And they plan to expand the scheme to the whole borough in October 2004.
   "So who cares?" the reader might say or think. "Who takes any notice of what the council tells you to do?"
   Barnet Council issued its customers in the compulsory recycling area with a black recycling box and told them that they had to put all their discarded glass, paper and cans in the black box. And to make sure the customers didn't just dump everything out of sight in a bin bag, the council announced that it would be sending its own Refuse Police out to make patrols on Dustbin Day. And that these characters had a licence to paw through the contents of bin bags and wheely bins in search of misplaced recyclables.
   "Job creation? Well, that's what councils do these days," the reader might think. "So what?"
   Well, a council's rules can come with built-in teeth. Under the Environmental Protection Act 1990, it seems that a council has the power to tell its customers what sort of containers to put refuse in.
   And the punchline is that anyone who refuses to co-operate with the compulsory recycling project will be harassed with verbal warnings at first. Then they'll get a 'formal notice'. And as a final escalation, the offender can be hauled into court and fined up to £1,000 for non-observance of the Environmental Protection Act 1990.
   Makes you wonder what other punitive powers local councils have up their sleeves, doesn't it?

As a somewhat bizarre final note while we're on the subject of recycling: Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council sent out a mailing on the Council Tax in March 2004. And in each envelope was a form inviting the customers to become an organ donor. So it looks like the ruling Trivial Democrats are determined not to leave the punters alone even after they croak!

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