Saturday 1 August 2009

Wood You Believe It

After the sealant and grout had settled in my rather pleasant new fitted kitchen, there were some components left over as surplus to requirements. Having not found use for seven shelves and two back panels made from high quality wood, as well as two unopened boxes of metal hinges, off we trotted to the local store as it seemed silly to just throw them in the skip. I didn't imagine that a refund would be forthcoming, but rather that they might have a policy of reusing such things to make up kitchen packs for future customers.

After all, their web-site is very enthusiastic about environmental issues. Here are a few highlights (emphasis mine).

Supplier Environmental Performance
To continue to build active partnerships with our suppliers to develop more sustainable supply chains for all the products we sell

To ensure that all our wood and paper products come either from proven, well-managed forests or recycled material

Product disposal
To increase the amount of B&Q products that are re-used or recycled

Store waste
To reduce the amount of waste generated by our stores and other activities

You know what's coming, I expect. To be truthful, I think I had a bit of an inkling too. We spoke to Enid, a very amiable living example of the famed B&Q senior staffer.

DP: I realise you can't issue a refund for these, but I didn't want to just throw them away, so thought you might like to take them in and return them to the supplier to make future packs. There's not a mark on them, and it's good quality stuff.
Enid: I'm afraid we can only take back unused full packs.
DP: Seems rather silly. Can I leave them with you anyway? Perhaps someone might like to ask the supplier if they can use them.
Enid: Well, you can leave them here if you like, but they'll just go into the skip. We can't do anything with things like that, the suppliers won't have them back.
DP: What about the boxes of hinges? They haven't been opened, can you add them to your stock?
Enid: Fraid not. There's no value in them you see? They're sold as part of a pack so we can't return them, either.
DP: So they'd go in the skip, too?
Enid: Yes.

Now, B&Q would probably argue that they make sure that waste is handled responsibly and is recycled (ie they put it in the correct bin at the dump), but wouldn't it make more sense, and render their bold web-site claims less laughable, if they were to recycle them into something they were built to be in the first place?

Leg Iron recently wrote of the nonsense surrounding recycling, and this struck a chord at the time.

I'd really like to recycle. It's in my genes. I don't like waste. But this travesty of recycling is not what I had in mind.

Nor is the travesty of companies clambering over each other to dick-waggle their green credentials in appeasement of the environ-mental cultists when, if they were being totally honest, they would admit that business practicalities make most of their boasts undeliverable.

Or, to put it another way, stop the green guff and save us from bullshit pollution. Please.


The Filthy Engineer said...


You should work for the Ministry of defence to see real waste. During the last Gulf war I asked for 32 NBCD prefilter foam inlet protectors. Approximate cost about £1 each. All to difficult, they sent me 32 complete prefilters at an aproximate cost of £10,000 per unit. When I asked where I should return the bits I wasn't going to use, I was told to throw them in a skip. Needless to say, I didn't. I asked all the ship's around if they needed any. They went like hot cakes.

Henry North London 2.0 said...

Give them away on freecycle....

Dick Puddlecote said...

Jeez, TFE! Now if I had a story like that to tell, it would have made for a half-interesting blog post. ;-)

I've no doubt not a lot has changed since your tale. Pissing money up the wall has always been dramatically better served by the public sector (still shuddering at the waste I witnessed at a local council for 4 years in the 80s).

Witterings from Witney said...


Just a thought but would not the cost of kitchen units be reduced if a 'recycling' programme such as you suggest existed?

Also if you want stories, such as TFE's, no doubt you read 'Defence of the Realm' by Richard North?

I suspect more is spent on the admin - staff, paper, monitoring etc etc - of all 'environment' programmes than is actually saved!

Angry Exile said...

As Henry North London suggests, give Freecycle a go for this sort of thing. It's fairly well used here in Oz though I've noticed some people just pile things up on the footpath outside the door with a sign on the top telling people to help themselves to whatever they like. Mind you, in Britain some local council prick will probably come along and do you for littering or unlicensed waste disposal or some other bollocks.

Abo said...

Here’s another example.
I am a self-employed copywriter in the Netherlands. One of my clients is a large building society. I get my writing assignments from their PR dept. They brief me via phone or email, I write the piece, email it to them, and finally I send my invoice for the hours I worked on it.

That is, it *used* to work this way. But recently, they changed their ‘system’. Since then the procedure is as follows:
(1) They brief me.
(2) I have to email them a quote for the costs.
(3) They print out an order confirmation, put it in an envelope and snailmail it to me.
(4) I write the article, etc.

And lately, they’ve started to send their confirmations in duplicate, requesting me to sign one copy and snailmail it back to them. I get two or three writing jobs a week from them, so on a yearly basis that’s an awful lot of ‘dead tree’ being sent to and fro.

Just like the store in DP’s blogpost, this building society prides itself on its ‘green’ image. They only use FSC wood for their building projects, all correspondence and publications are printed on recycled paper, etc. Of course, I have mentioned to them that this paper-consuming new ‘system’ of theirs is rather eco-unfriendly. They agreed, but said nothing could be done about it.

Mark Wadsworth said...

DP, I salute for actually attempting to hand the stuff back for free, despite you/we all knew what would happen.

Green Building Materials said...

Freecycle or rfecycle what you can man.