Recycling conundrum

  S5W 14:57 30 Dec 2008

A couple of years ago when I was preparing to move from my old address to my present, smaller one I gave lots of saleable items to a local charity shop, they refused to accept anything electrical, even a battery operated tape player; they said it was "instructions from head office". A second similar shop told me over the phone that it was also their policy.
After settling in here I went to the local tip to dispose of a mountain of flattened cardboard boxes; the place was a cornucopia if recycling, everything from old lawnmowers, TVs and vacuum cleaners to tables, chairs, crockery etc. was cleaned up by the lads who worked there and put out for anyone to take home for a derisory sum of money. A neighbour bought an excellent bike for riding into the village.
Then the local council gave the job of operating the tip to a commecial firm. Now no recycling takes place, everything is thrown into skips, compressed and taken away to heaven knows where.
Why this vandalism? Probably the unintended consequence of a piece of bad legislation. But I won't go into that.

  Forum Editor 15:05 30 Dec 2008

of a piece of bad legislation"

Not really - it's a common-sense reticence on the part of your local authority to risk the possibility of being sued for negligence when someone electrocutes themselves, or the brakes fail on that bike and sends a child under the wheels of a bus.

Charity shops don't take electrical items for the same reason - they could be held liable for damages if a person is electrocuted by that toaster someone donated.

  Forum Editor 15:07 30 Dec 2008

Why not?

  S5W 15:51 30 Dec 2008

There is no 'commonsense' in destroying perfectly serviceable items which one party does not want yet another would wish to use. As for suing for negligence, when the second party accepts the used item it should be their responsibility to check it is safe/roadworthy etc. That was for years the 'make do and mend' mentality which worked well.
Laws which encourage people to sue almost for the sake of it or to make a quick buck are gradually strangling us and those with responsible jobs should realize this before it is too late.

  Forum Editor 17:52 30 Dec 2008

"There is no 'commonsense' in destroying perfectly serviceable items"

But that's the whole point; charities, and local authorities aren't able to determine when an electrical item is 'perfectly serviceable', so they can't take the risk. There's no mystery here at all, a case for negligence would be very likely to succeed if someone was killed by a faulty appliance. The person selling the item has a duty of care in law - it's not a new thing, it's been the case for many years.

If you sell me a second-hand iron and it electrocutes a member of my family I can sue you because you didn't notify me it was faulty - you have a duty of care to ensure that as far as is reasonably possible you don't sell something that is dangerous.

  S5W 18:51 30 Dec 2008

Forum Editor
Thanks for your reasoned reply. As far as electrical and mechanical devices are concerned you have a very strong case but there used to be (still is?)a type of sale agreement known as "as seen" which meant that the purchaser took responsibility for the goods as soon as the price was paid; perhaps the duty of care was still maintained, I do not know.
When it comes to mundane household goods such as chairs, tables, other furniture and crockery etc. there must be a limit to the responsibility of the seller. My local Post Office is full of Articles for Sale notices and the trade goes on to everyones satisfaction.
We must surely learn or relearn the principle of responsibility for our own
actions if we are to consider ourselves mature adults and not irresponsible children who certainly need protection from themselves.
Anyway thanks for the feedback.

  namtas 19:13 30 Dec 2008

Some charity organisations do take discarded electrical goods , they do a simple Portable Appliance Test (PAT) test before passing or selling it on.

  Forum Editor 19:21 30 Dec 2008

The old idea that 'sold as seen' offers a seller protection under the law is false. As a seller you have a duty to ensure that anything you sell is safe, insofar as you may reasonably be expected to know. If you sell a faulty electrical item to someone 'as seen' you may still be liable for damages if it subsequently turns out to have been faulty at the point of sale, and in some cases you may even be guilty of a criminal offence.

If you wish to protect yourself in some way you should obtain a written undertaking from the buyer to the effect that he/she will carry out detailed safety checks before the item is used, and will have any necessary repairs carried out. In reality this still may not absolve you from responsibility altogether, and it's the reason charity shops (notably Oxfam) ceased the practice of having a tame electrician in once a week to check over electrical appliances on a voluntary basis - the legal implications were a nightmare.

Exactly the same reasoning is behind your local authority's policy.

  Condom 19:21 30 Dec 2008

Many councils seem to do their own thing and make up rules as they go along. Mine has now stopped accepting paper which has been through a home shredder. Why this cannot go with garden rubbish I have no idea as I do put some in my compost bin but I've too much to use it all this way.

I just took my son's perfectly good 17" monitor to the council waste place today and added it to an unbelievable pile of other electronic stuff which I'm sure could have been put to better use than crushing.

I even risked jail to nick a couple of knobs of a cooker lying there which was the same as ours.

  recap 19:26 30 Dec 2008

"Welcome! The Freecycle Network™ is made up of 4,657 groups with 6,286,000 members across the globe. It's a grassroots and entirely nonprofit movement of people who are giving (& getting) stuff for free in their own towns. It's all about reuse and keeping good stuff out of landfills. Each local group is moderated by a local volunteer (them's good people). Membership is free. To sign up, find your community by entering it into the search box above or by clicking on “Browse Groups” above the search box. Have fun!"

click here for further details.

  Forum Editor 19:27 30 Dec 2008

It has little to do with money-grabbing solicitors and everything to do with the greedy compensation culture that has arisen in this country. Lots of people go through life seeing every misfortune as a potential money-making exercise - 'who can I sue?' is the order of the day, so other people have to protect themselves from litigation.

There are undoubtedly greedy lawyers, as there are greedy bus drivers and greedy ballet dancers, but tarring them all with the same brush is a tad over the top.

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