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Drive-by Littering Leaves Roads Looking Like Rubbish Tips

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People throwing rubbish out of cars have been adding to the problems caused by fly tippers, leaving many roadsides carpeted in old bottles, food containers, cigarette butts and other unsightly and unhygienic litter.

Approximately 80 tonnes or 3200 wheelie bins worth of rubbish were collected in a recent clear up along 18 miles of Hertfordshire roadsides, according to the Bolton News, and the problem is growing all around the UK. Councils are now calling on the government to make it possible to fine the owner of the car, rather than having to find out who threw the rubbish out of the vehicle. This is already how cases are handled in London, and it should help to make drivers take greater responsibility for the behaviour of their passengers, as well as to think twice before littering themselves.

Littering from cars has become a serious environmental problem, and when rubbish is thrown from moving vehicles it can be dangerous to pedestrians and other road users. Being hit by a lit cigarette butt or a heavy bottle flying out of a fast moving car can leave people with burns and bruises, or result in road accidents with potentially more serious consequences. All this is completely unnecessary as it is very easy to collect your rubbish and dispose of it safely when you get the chance.

Tips for Dealing With Rubbish in Your Car

  • Keep a supply of bags in your car so that you always have somewhere to put your rubbish. Small bin bags, carrier bags, or the type of bags used by dog owners, will all work well, so tuck a few away in a convenient place.
  • Stuff your rubbish bag out of the way in the glove compartment or hang a bag on the back of a seat for passengers in the back of the car to use.
  • For long trips, use a sealable freezer bag or Tupperware box as a spill and smell free solution for storing messy containers or sticky wrappers.
  • Pick any rubbish off the floor before you get out of the car, to stop it from falling out or making more mess if anything bursts or crumbles when it is trodden on.

How Many Other Buyers Want Your Dream Home ?

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Property prices appear to be blooming again, along with the spring flowers, helped along by growing competition among buyers. Increasing numbers of people are looking to move into a new home, with a 12% rise in the number of prospective buyers during February. According to the property network Sequence, there are now on average seven buyers for every property that is on the market.

If you are looking for someone to buy your home, this is great news. With more interested buyers around, you are more likely to get a faster sale, at a better price. On the other hand, if you are looking to buy a new home, you could run into trouble. If you are planning to buy the kind of property that is in great demand or if you are looking in a popular area, the competition could be fierce. You might see properties disappearing from the market very quickly, or be forced into offering more when you do find a property that is right for you.

However, there are some signs that the supply of properties onto the market is also stating to rise, as often happens at this time of the year. Once more homes are up for sale, the competition between buyers should become a little less fierce, particularly outside of the most popular neighbourhoods. Even so, many of us are likely to face rising costs if we are planning to move home this year. We might be making higher offers to eliminate the competition, and we are already facing higher prices.

One estimate from LSL Property Services puts the average price for a family home in the UK at £273,528, which is actually £34,000 higher than the pre-crisis peak in early 2008. A substantial part of this sum was gained during the last year, and it is likely to continue increasing in many parts of the country during 2015. The areas where competition between buyers is strongest are likely to see the most significant rises, so if there are a lot of people looking for the same kind of property as you, in the same area, you might find prices going up as you search.


How Far Does Your Recycling Travel?

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recycling centreIt is easy to stop thinking about our rubbish as soon as it leaves our homes. We might occasionally wonder what our recyclables have been turned into, particularly when we notice that something we are buying has been made from recycled materials, but other than that, we tend to forget about our waste.

It might come as a surprise therefore that some of your rubbish could actually be taking a trip abroad after you have thrown it out. A lot of our waste is disposed of or recycled fairly locally, but some of it is actually exported out of the UK. Some of it goes as far as China, but increasing amounts of waste are now being sent to Europe to power the incinerators that are generating heat and electricity for in countries such as Denmark and Sweden.

The Danish national broadcaster, DR, reports that thousands of tonnes of non-hazardous waste are being transported from the UK to Denmark in order to heat homes and provide power. The rubbish that is being sent to Denmark is mainly old construction material and waste from building sites. It includes cardboard, wood and plastic, all of which can be burned to generate power.

According to the operations manager of AVO, a company that burns imported waste at a plant in Frederikshavn, this waste is the perfect mixture for producing heat and electricity from their incinerator. The company has actually doubled the amount of waste that it imports from the UK, contributing to the total of about 200,000 tonnes of combustible waste that is now being sent each year from the UK to Denmark.

The waste incinerators can provide Danish homes with much cheaper heating than they could get through other options, such as natural gas, so demand for more waste to burn is increasing, and luckily, there is a good supply of combustible rubbish from the UK. Although we do have some similar incinerators, we don’t have enough to make use of all our available waste. Sending our rubbish overseas can provide homes in Denmark with cheaper power, but it is also a way to keep our useable rubbish out of landfill.


Communities Tell Councils: Cut Opening Hours, Not Services

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The recent public consultation over changes to recycling services in Hertfordshire revealed substantial opposition to the closure of two local recycling sites, and demand for services to be made available at evenings and weekends, even if overall opening hours had to be cut.

Hertfordshire is not alone in having cuts proposed to its rubbish removals and recycling services. Other councils around the UK have also been looking for ways to cut down on their spending in order to cope with their ongoing financial hardships. It seems that our waste services are an easy target for budget cuts, despite their importance for public health and the environment.

A similar situation arose last year in another part of the country, when drastic cuts were proposed to waste services. The East Sussex council announced that it was hoping to close down three of its recycling centres. A public consultation was held to discuss the idea, and the resulting outcry was so extreme that the council had to change its plans. At the beginning of October, they announced that rather than getting rid of these sites completely, they will simply have their opening hours cut. The cuts will still be severe, with the sites reduced to opening for just three days a week, but this will enable the sites to be saved, while the council can save £1.8 million over the next 18 years of their contract with the waste service provider.

Despite the pressure for councils to keep finding ways to cut costs, the consultation process underwent a similar pattern in Hertfordshire. The council considered the various surveys, letters, and petitions that were handed in as part of the public consultation, and decided that closures were not the right way to reduce spending. Instead, new schedules will be created to keep every disposal site in Hertfordshire open, with hours designed to make life as easy as possible for local people. The council has also recommended that the new waste service provider, AmeyCespa, should make every effort to increase recycling in the area by reaching out to the community and promoting reuse and recycling.


Recycling Targets: Are We Meeting Ours?

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Ahead of the release of the official statistics on recycling in November, councils around the country have been analysing the league table released by letsrecycle.com, which shows how well placed each area is according to provisional estimates of its recycling rate.

Some parts of the UK have done very well. Swansea, for example, has managed to reach its high target of recycling 56% of its waste. This success was attributed to a new fortnightly limit of three bags of rubbish that was introduced in April, and to the door-to-door visits offering residents advice on recycling and reducing waste. The target will be raised to 58% next year.

However, other parts of the UK have struggled, and some have missed their targets. Scotland has been striving for an overall rate of 50% since 2013, but it has not managed to reach it this year. The average for all 32 Scottish councils was 42%, meaning that there is still plenty of work to do in order to boost recycling. Nine of the councils had managed to meet the target, with some exceeding it by substantial amounts. Clackmannanshire actually achieved a 60% recycling rate. However, there were some very low rates in other parts of Scotland that drew the average down. Shetland only managed to recycle 12% of its waste, while Dumfries and Galloway recycled 24%.

Closer to home, South Oxfordshire managed to claim the top spot in the league table, with a recycling rate of 65.71%. A lot of work has gone in to achieving this high rate. Mixed recyclable waste is collected every fortnight, relieving residents of the need to sort their own recycling, and food waste is collected separately once a week, keeping it out of landfill. Rochford, which took second place this year after several years at the top, managed to recycle 65.49% of its waste, through a three-bin system collecting food waste weekly while taking other recyclables and waste every two weeks. New incentives are expected to be introduced next year that could boost Rochford back into the top spot, and the goal for 2016 is to be recycling 70% of waste. The overall goal for the UK is now to reach 50% by 2020.


Are House Prices on Their Way Down ?

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Property Prices DownThe market has been looking better for buyers for a while, thanks to the increasing number of properties for sale and the smaller numbers of people looking for a new home. However, what homeowners, including recent buyers, want to know, is what will happen in the longer term. A new report from the Centre for Economics and Business Research has predicted that next year could be a significant turning point for the property market in the UK.

Prices have tended to rise during 2014, and this is a trend that is set to continue throughout the rest of the year, according to the CEBR. The end result is likely to be an overall increase of about 7.8%. However, the trend is expected to reverse in 2015, when property values may start to decline. The predicted fall is not likely to be as large as the rise that we have seen this year, so that gains in value that have accumulated over 2014 will not be wiped out completely. The CEBR predicts that the dip in prices in 2015 could be just 0.8%.

Although this amount seems small, the turn from steady increase to small decline could be significant for anyone who is hoping to move into their own home for the first time. While existing homeowners who are expecting to move may find the reduction in prices offset by the decrease in their current home’s value, first time buyers could benefit from prices that could drop by an average of just over £2000, as well as the chance to get onto the property ladder without having to catch up to prices that keep climbing just out of reach.

If the CEBR’s predictions do come true next year, then 2015 will be the first year that property prices have declined since 2011. Several factors make such a decline likely, and their effects are already beginning to be seen on the market. The Mortgage Market Review began to slow down mortgage approvals in April, demand from buyers has declined particularly in the least affordable areas, and expectations that the Bank of England will raise interest rates have made many more cautious about the housing market.


Could Recycling Food Waste Reduce Rubbish Collection?

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Food WasteRecycling has become common across the UK, but there is one potentially recyclable type of waste that is usually still thrown out with the rest of the rubbish. Food waste is one of the biggest components of our household rubbish, and while some of us do compost vegetable peelings or feed used tealeaves to our garden roses, a lot of it ends up in landfill.

Efforts to increase recycling seldom focus on this problem. For example, a new £5 million fund has been made available for initiatives to encourage people to recycle more, but rather than focusing on food waste, it has been linked to regular collections of non-recycled waste. The funding will only be made available to areas that commit to weekly bin collections, despite the fact that reducing the frequency of rubbish removals can actually increase the amount that people recycle. A less regular collection makes people more likely to separate their waste into the different boxes or bins provided in order to avoid ending up with an overflowing bin. Some areas have switched to fortnightly, or even three-weekly, collections, and the Chartered Institution of Waste Management suggests that monthly collections might become a possibility if we start separating out food waste.

Taking food waste out of our bins would have an even greater impact than removing any other type of recyclable waste from the general rubbish. Not only is food one of the largest components of our waste, but it is also the one that attracts pests and decomposes most easily. If we were no longer throwing out food waste in our main bins, we probably wouldn’t need them to be emptied every week.

A monthly collection of non-recyclable waste might work well if it is only picking up small amounts of waste that will not rot while waiting to be collected. It is food waste that we need to be collected on a weekly basis, so if we can convince people to keep it separate, we might be able to come up with a system that keeps everyone happy. We would be able to recycle more rather than sending food waste to landfill, without any of the problems usually associated with less frequent rubbish removals. We could even start creating more power plants to use the collected food waste to produce renewable energy.


Property Prices Rise Again, At Lowest Rate Since 2013

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Property prices increased Property prices increased by just 0.1% over the course of the last month, indicating that the property market as a whole may be stabilising. The average price of a property in the UK now stands at just under £189,000. Although it was the fifteenth successive month in which property prices were growing, this small increase in July marked the lowest rise in the market since April 2013.

According to the Nationwide Building Society, this slowdown in the rate of increase was not unexpected. Analysts have seen many signs over the last few months that the property market has been beginning to slow its pace of growth. The July rates fit into a larger pattern, with the slower rate of growth helping to bring down the annual rise in property prices for this year. In June, it was calculated at 11.8%, but given July’s slower rate of increase, the annual rate has declined to 10.6%.

The slowdown comes after the number of people being approved for new mortgages dropped dramatically during the first half of the year, thanks to the tougher criteria imposed on borrowers during April by the Mortgage Market Review. The number of people who were approved dropped by almost 20% between the months of January and May, and fewer people were contacting estate agents or considering removals.

The market now appears to be recovering from this change in lending practises, and as the rise in property prices slows, there may be more interest in buying and removals. The number of mortgages approved in June rebounded from the lower levels during May, and lenders are expecting the property market to do well in the coming months. They expect mortgage rates to remain low, while the labour market continues to strengthen, creating more confidence among potential buyers. However, there may be problems for those planning purchases and removals in the longer term if the supply of new housing does not manage to keep up with this increasing demand. New properties are being built, but the rate may not be fast enough to fulfil the need for more housing.


Lower Deposits Produce Rise in First Time Buyers

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1st Time BuyersMore first time buyers have been planning removals across the UK during the first half of 2014 thanks to lenders making it easier for people to obtain mortgages with smaller deposits. According to research conducted by LSL Property Services, approximately 146,000 buyers who purchased homes during the first half of the year were buying property for the first time. This figure was not only 27% higher than the number of first time buyers making purchases during the first half of 2013, but also the highest figure for first time buyers since before the financial crisis, in 2007.

The rise in people planning their first property purchases and removals is thought to be due to the lower deposits now being accepted by many mortgage lenders. Raising a deposit can be one of the main barriers to making it onto the property ladder, so lowering this barrier can have a significant effect on first time buyers. The average deposit made by a first time buyer in June had dropped 18% compared to the same month last year, reaching £24,530. The average deposit has been below £25,000 for the last five months.

The Help to Buy scheme has played a part in enabling these first time buyers to access lending without needing to save up large deposits, but lenders have also been more willing to consider lending at higher loan to value ratios outside of the scheme.

However, the Money Advice Service recommends that first time buyers still need to think carefully about whether they can afford to buy a home. Careful budgeting is the key to making the switch from tenant to homeowner, so potential first time buyers need to ensure that they will be able to cover their monthly repayments and afford the additional costs associated with moving, including mortgage and solicitor’s fees, stamp duty, removals, furnishing and decorating costs, and home insurance. Buyers will also need to save up a deposit of at least 5% of the property price, and go through the mortgage application process, providing details about their income, debts and living expenses. Gathering all of this information on income and outgoings together to work out whether homeownership is affordable is still the first step to getting a mortgage and moving in to your own home.


Science Museum’s Mountains of Waste Show What Happens When We Don’t Clear Up

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Science HistoryIt’s surprising how easily clutter can build up around the house, and how much junk we actually throw out every week. Even the smallest pieces of rubbish can quickly build up into mountains of waste when we are don’t have regular rubbish removals or when we don’t bother to keep on top of our mess. It’s something you often don’t realise until you decide that the attic or the garage really needs a good clear out, and suddenly you have a vast problem on your hands that will take you days to sort out, but a new exhibition at the Science Museum in London could help to put the problem of ignored waste into perspective.

The Rubbish Collection exhibit will gather together all of the waste that is left behind by visitors to the Science Museum, piling it all up so that we can see just how much mess we create as we go about our daily lives. The project, which will be run by artist Joshua Sofaer and is open until September, will collect together all of the waste that is produced in the museum over the course of one month. The rubbish will be sorted, photographed and archived in order to show just how much we throw away, usually without a second thought. Among the finds that have been made so far are just over £5 in cash and a spoon accidentally thrown away in a child’s packed lunch, but Sofaer expects to collect much more. Over the course of a month, the museum will usually produce more than eight tonnes of paper and cardboard waste, many litres of used cooking oil, and plenty of old exhibition displays and other junk.

Sofaer toured various recycling plants and rubbish removals sites around the UK to learn about the huge amounts of material that we throw out everyday. He hopes that visiting the exhibit will help people to think more about the rubbish that they throw out, helping us all to become more aware of our impact on the earth and what happens after the rubbish removals team takes our junk away. Waste doesn’t just disappear when we throw it out, he told the Guardian, it is transformed.

 

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