We call them Tips

08 December 2012
In deciding to finally leave the country, and by definition leave Bristol permanently, a requirement is to fully vacate my Bristol flat. One of the problems is that even though significant periods over the last 10 or so years were spent away from Bristol, it nevertheless remained a de-facto dumping ground. For various reasons i had decided to dispose of it all myself, which when you are going as far as digging into every dark corner actually is no minor task.


I know that disposal of building waste is limited, but i do wonder whether the quantity of stuff i was throwing out was stretching the definition of typical household output. A car-full of bedding and clothing doesn't bat an eyelid, and in any case for various reasons i was using dumps (or Household Waste Recycling Centres to give their Orwellian name) in both Bristol and Hertfordshire anyway. I had proof of residency for both areas, so did not see any issues. For me the problematic waste is the large amount of electronics, as for various reasons i had around 15 computers in my flat. And this is in addition to various components i had kicking around. Almost all of these are from the days before virtualisation, so the type of software experimentation I did required multiple systems. It was disposal of some of these systems that caused a particular incident.


As it happened, on this particular run i was throwing out two old computers (well, actually one computer and one empty case), so I was asked the dreaded question where is that from?. To be fair it is unusual for a domestic computer to have PET stickers on them, but since it was dated for circa 2000 my explanation that I took it off the University 5 years ago was plausible. Apparently they check for tell-tale signs when stripping cases down, and the fine for companies is £100k. I do wonder what he would have thought if he had seen the 1990's 20-something inch CRT monitor with UNIVERSITY OF BRISTOL prominently engraved on the top, which i had discarded several weeks previously.


A big problem with second-hand systems is that you never really know where they were from originally, and in the case of the CRT above i don't think its departure from the university sometime around 2004 was even documented. I suspect that the documentation for a system i took off them officially around that time has long been culled. These days universities replace systems annually, but back then there was a 7-year write-down period, and giving staff written-off equipment was seen as a perfectly reasonable recycling method. I do note that computers are no longer security-marked.


Leaving those aside, i still had (and still have) a lot of systems that i was the first-hand owner of, which brings into the question what constitutes household disposal. They were never used commercially, but as soon as you correlate quantity to purpose, you create an incentive to use the disposal method better known as the Avon Gorge. The typical taxpayer simply cannot afford to go along with the delusion that a whole household will only produces a single bag of rubbish a week.


The official reason for excluding "commercial" waste disposal is because businesses do not pay council tax, which does make one wonder what business rates pay for. All it sums up to is waste being a cash-cow, especially for businesses, and it all adds to the quagmire the UK is sinking into.