Rethink recycling #hackthebudget

Posted on September 19, 2014 |

Oldham Council are under pressure to reduce spending after having £60 million pounds slashed form their budget and produced the following video looking for ideas on how to do this.

While I’m not going to comment on the value for money aspect of of the video it did get me thinking.

One way that has been suggested to reduce costs in the video is to increase the amount of recycling households in the borough do, but laterally thinking before you increase the amount of recycling you do, you should try and reduce the amount of waste you have to recycle.

When I got home from work today as usual there was a pile of junk mail, behind the door, all of which goes straight in the bin, usually after a small rant about the amount of junk mail Virgin Media produce!

Anyway like any good geek I stated hacking away at the problem, thinking in terms of numbers and my own experience. Then I turned to the kitchen scales…

I received 8 pieces of junk mail weighing a total of 60 grams

According to wikipedia at the 2001 census there was 87,824 households in Oldham

If each received the same amount of junk mail thats a staggering 5269.44 kg of junk mail delivered today! thats the equivalent of one fully grown asian elephant.

The solution

So, reduce the junk, reduce the recycling, reduce the costs

There is a free service called the Mail Preference Service  that you can register on to reduce the amount of junk mail you get, while it may not stop it, if we could just reduce it to a 1700 kg Rhinoceros a day, once multiplied by the 87 thousand households and the 250 working days each years the savings add up!

Hack the Budget

This is just one suggestion off the top of my head, I’d love to see what else people could come up with if we had a hackday at Hack Oldham, A hack day is a day long session where people from various backgrounds get together and try to creatively solve a problem, they are becoming increasingly popular amongst organisation such as the National Health Service.

So I lay down the gauntlet, who can reduce Oldham’s waste by a 190,000 kg blue whale a day!


Andy Powell is a website specialist with 20 years experience, he is also the founder of Hack Oldham, a non profit co-working and maker space, a digital trainer and a maker of things.

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