Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Madrid's Brigada Basura

I do make an effort to recycle much of my rubbish in Madrid, but it isn't always easy. This is not because we don't have recycling containers near to home, it's just that they are almost always full. A situation which this piece from El País suggests is very common. Not to worry, the Ayuntamiento of Madrid has a solution for this problem, and it won't surprise regular readers of this blog to discover that the solution in this case consists of fining those who lack the physical strength to create a space inside one of the overflowing containers. An army of 300 inspectors will be created to enforce the new rules in yet another attempt by the municipal government to increase their income so they can carry on paying the city's enormous debt.

It gets worse. Another part of the new regulations suggests that Madrid hopes to include the sport of harassing the homeless should they ever get awarded the Olympic Games. It states that those who go searching through rubbish or who take cardboard boxes or the like can be fined up to €750. Most of the people who do this are probably homeless and make use of what they find, the rest of us are still vainly attempting to recycle our own rubbish. Ana Botella, whose husband used to be famous for something or other, has declared that she refuses to live in a city where people have to behave in such a degrading way. We should take her at her word, because she and whatshisname live in suburban splendour outside of the city limits. She clearly doesn't pass down Madrid's Gran Via very often, although it's possible that the windows of her official car are shaded to such an extent that she is protected from the realities of the city she pretends to administer.


Troy said...

Ever cut your hand on a tin of tuna while trying to stuff the bag into the ridiculously small opening of the yellow bin? I wonder if a lawsuit is possible?

Another interesting fact, does anyone actually know what can go into the yellow bin? Is it like in Germany where everything with the recycling symbol can, or is it just tins, tetra bricks and plastic bottles? Information fit for an investigative journalist!

Graeme said...

Yellow bin? We should be so lucky, that's why those of us in the centre of Madrid have to look for the containers where the rubbish police lurk, watching our every move.

Tom said...

Re: people going through the bins looking for stuff; I see a lot of people doing this in Cerdanyola and none of them appear to be homeless. often they're old men looking for bits of wire, copper, nuts & bolts, components etc which I assume they sell for scrap or store in a little shed somewhere. I've always thought it was quite a quaint thing to be doing... something influenced by having lived through times of real hardship and not understanding how people can throw away genuinely useful or valuable things. It has never bothered me, and if the people doing it are homeless, it would bother me even less.

As to recycling, I still have mixed feelings about this. We do it, and fairly carefully, but I often wonder just how much of our carefully sorted waste ends up in landfill.

By the way, Ana Botella should watch out... if the rumours are to believe, it might be her getting 'recycled'... geddit?!

Anonymous said...

Ana Botella, Gran Señora

Graeme said...

Let's hope she doesn't end up as a bag lady on the Gran Via.

Tom, your point about everything going to the same place reminded me of when they started using different coloured bins in Madrid airport - everything was then emptied into the same truck. It would be the final irony, they fine you for not separating properly and then mix it all together again.