Wednesday, 28 March 2018



Part of the "Great Pacific Garbage Patch".
A raft of marine plastic the size of Belgium
in the Pacific Ocean.
Picture from the Ocean Cleanup Foundation
Plans to introduce a plastic bottle and can deposit scheme have been proposed to encourage recycling. Currently in the UK we buy around 13 billion plastic bottles every year and discard nearly half of them. 

The British Plastics Federation claim that it could cost up to a billion pounds to set up and another billion a year to run. Given that local authorities spend around £778 million a year clearing up the ones we throw into the street, the net cost wouldn't be all that great. If it resulted in us not actually making the planet uninhabitable, it would pay for itself many times over.

I don't know what the cost of recycling cans would be but the actual value of the metal would make it an even more viable proposition.

If the refund were high enough, I could imagine there would soon be a thriving industry in the collection of plastic and metal litter already discarded on our streets and we could soon benefit from a much cleaner environment.

This has all got me to thinking: the Earth's crust contains a thin layer of the rare metal Iridium. It was deposited there around 66 million years ago when an asteroid struck just off the Yucatan Peninsular and which is credited with the extinction of the Dinosaurs and many other species. Immediately below the layer, there is a huge variety of living creatures; immediately above it, nothing.

Imagine then, scientists examining the Earth's crust in another 66 million years. In  it they will find an equally thin layer of plastic (this stuff is impossible to completely destroy). Like the Iridium layer, immediately below it there will be a rich diversity of life and, just like before, above it, nothing.

This will leave them with an impossible conundrum. The invention and manufacture of plastic requires the technological expertise of an intelligent species, but what intelligent species would then go and dump millions of tons of the stuff in the ocean? They will probably never know.


Back in 2016, I reported the fact that Bexley Council had begun using bailiffs to recover arrears of council tax and warned of the possible consequences of doing this. I had some direct experience of the activities of bailiffs acting for Greenwich Council over a number of years and the appalling and often illegal methods they used. It was always my intention to follow this story up with more information but I never did.

For some reason, this story has been followed on my blog an extraordinary number of times and I wonder why. It's not the only old story to attract attention but it's by far the most popular. 

A mystery.

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