Books and deposits

Many years ago, back in nineteen-mumble-mumble, glass bottles had a deposit paid on them. You got that back when you took the bottles back to be reused. There were few, if any, plastic bottles around at that time. Everything came in glass.

We kids loved it. We could take found bottles to the shop and get a few pennies for sweets. Looking back, it was like a reward for litter-picking. Anyone who discarded a bottle, as long as it didn’t break, was funding our sugar habit.The environment was kept clear of bottles and we got free sweets. Everyone’s a winner.

Then came the terrible day of the ‘no deposit – no return’ bottle. It was moulded into the glass so there was no way to get anything on them. Bottles accumulated because nobody had any incentive to collect them any more.

Then came the plastic bottles. Again, no deposit, no return. Worthless, once empty. Some glass ones were good for beer making but the plastic ones, well they were no use at all.

So recycling began. We were to wash out all that glass and plastic and pay the council to take it away so they could sell it to recyclers. It was a great con. Here, the council doesn’t collect glass any more. We are expected to take it to the bottle banks and not put it in general rubbish. The nearest bottle bank is 3 miles away… needless to say, glass recycling doesn’t happen as often as it should.

I have a plan for the accumulated empty bottles. I’m going to try setting them up in the woods with the necks in different directions so no matter which way the wind blows there will always be a ‘woooo’ sound out there. They’ll gradually fill with rain, which will evaporate in warm weather, so the tone of  the ‘woooo’ will change over time and vary depending on the levels of water in each bottle. I’d call it an art installation. I suppose many would call it ‘that damn freak and his lunatic ideas’ but art is often misunderstood.

Recycling hasn’t worked. All the crap is shipped to China and Africa for recycling and the overflow gets dumped into rivers and then into the sea. China and Africa get the blame for this while we pretend to be all clean and holy. The truth is, it’s our crap plastic that’s coming down those African and Chinese rivers.

China is getting sick of being sent contaminated and generally crap stuff for recycling so are clamping down on what they’ll accept. No more of the shitty stuff.

Recyclers are complaining that the councils sell them crappy stuff. Councils complain that people aren’t washing out the plastics etc before putting them in the recycle bins.

The ones at the end of the line are at fault. These are the people who make no money from the recycling game and who actually pay to have theirs taken away. But they are the ones at fault.

On that basis it’s never going to work. Not while those at the end of the line are expected to not only work for free, but to pay for the privilege. That won’t change.

It was therefore good to see the return of deposit-paid bottles. Some are calling it a tax. It isn’t. It’s a deposit. Basically you pay a retainer to have the bottle and if you bring back the empty bottle, you get that retainer back.

If you just throw the bottle out of your car window or drop it in the street, someone else will collect it and get the deposit money. We can look forward to a return to volunteer litter collectors who turn that litter into sweets.

It would be good to see this applied to glass bottles too but one thing at a time, eh? Besides, glass is not a big deal in the environment. Chuck a bottle into a river and it will soon sink to the bottom. The river will gradually wear it down back into the sand it came from. No toxins, no floating around getting tangled up with marine life, just a gradually eroding bottle.

I’ve seen the plastic bottle deposit in action in Denmark. Other European countries use it too. It does need a good network of the machines that accept the bottles. The machine checks the barcode to make sure it’s not an imported bottle (it’ll spit those back at you). If it’s a legit bottle, the machine shreds it. It doesn’t give cash, it gives a voucher to use in the shop. Well no problem, you’d have used some cash in the shop anyway and not giving cash means junkies can’t load up with bottles to get a fix.

It also means there’s no purpose in printing fake barcodes for a load of imported bottles. Oh, it happens  😉  but only on a small scale – one or two that someone brought back from a holiday. There’s no point in organised crime getting involved, it’s pennies per bottle so once you take off paying for the printed barcodes, paying someone to print them, paying patsies to take them to the machine, there’s nothing left. Besides, it’s all in vouchers.so no cash. You can sell the vouchers at a fraction under face value, sure, but you’ll be lucky to make a penny a bottle. And you have to ship in a load at a time from somewhere that doesn’t have the deposit. No, the crims won’t be interested.

Of course, if the idiots in charge ramp up the deposit enough, it could then become of interest to the Mafia…

It’s a good idea. I’m all for it. The deposit is not a tax, it’s entirely refundable on the return of the bottle just like in the old days. Rather than pay the council to take away our recycling and earn money on it, we get a refund on the used plastic. It will work better than the present system.

As for the vouchers, well, we used to spend the deposits in the shop where we took back the bottles anyway. Vouchers or cash, makes no difference to me. As long as the vouchers aren’t banned from use on baccy and booze, which would be a silly but predictable move on the part of our lunatic government.

Even sillier but impossible to rule out – you’d take back ten Coke bottles and can’t use the voucher to buy Coke. Oh I can well believe the dickheads we have in charge now are capable of making a rule like that.

If the vouchers turn out to be only good for salad and vegetables, I might add plastic bottles to my glass-bottle ‘woooo’ machine.

Or maybe retry my old attempts at melting them down into bricks for garden use.

***

Books –

Underdog Anthology 5 is a definite. There are more than enough stories to make it a ‘go’ but it can always take a few more. Deadline is midnight GMT on the 1st April and if you’re a few hours late, I’ll still consider it. It’s Easterish timed but not Easter themed. This one is the one filling the gap between Christmas and Halloween and I think I’ll keep it that way. The Spring non-themed anthology.

Price rises at the end of this month will not apply to the anthologies because the authors are paid in advance, there are no royalties, and the prices are as low as I can make them. None of the anthologies have made break-even, possibly because I keep giving them away, but that is not what they are for. They are advertising for Leg Iron Books and its authors.They might take a decade to reach break even, if ever, it doesn’t matter.

The price rises will also not apply to books by me. The only ones I have to increase are the ones I pay royalties on – the novels and single author story collections. They won’t go up by a lot but I need to pay my authors more than they get now. They aren’t going to be keen to send me more books if they get a pittance every quarter, and I don’t want to lose any of them just yet.

I only want to lose an author when they get an offer from a big publisher. That’s the point of this venture. I don’t want to be a big publisher, I don’t want to be rich, I don’t want to be in the 40% tax bracket. I’ve been in it twice and it was horrible both times because I don’t want to succeed for half pay. I’d like to make enough to live on, eventually, and see the Leg Iron Books authors make it into the big time. I am not the big time. I’m a step on the way, I hope.

I have been staying up far too late working on Lee Bidgood’s ‘You’ll Be Fine’ because it’s a compelling read. A complex story, tightly written, where even the most apparently irrelevant detail is woven in to a logically bizarre tale. And it has an orange Lada. I actually once worked with someone who had an orange Lada and he took a lot of stick for it. It was a uniquely revolting vehicle.

I hope to finish my so-far trivial edits by tomorrow. Then I have my son’s 30th birthday to deal with (yes, I am old enough to look unironed and well slept in) and then the anthology.

Today I was up in the horrible early time when the sun was on entirely the wrong side of the sky and the car was still frozen to the ground. It was day-job stuff, actual microbiology, but it won’t take effect for a while yet. It will not stop the anthology and will not stop Lee Bidgood’s book work. It won’t even affect Longrider’s next one, which is imminent. It just meant that tonight has been a bit of a wipeout because I’m not designed for mornings.

If you have something for Underdog Anthology 5, get it in by midnight on April 1st. There is a +/- day or so tolerance on this deadline, since it’s not specifically linked to a calendar event but a week late is far too late.

The next anthology will be Halloween. If you have a good scary one, you might want to save it for that.

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8 thoughts on “Books and deposits

    • I doubt I’d be able to move it to the Tate.

      I tend to work in concrete when I make things. I made a garden railway in one place I lived, about 25 years ago. I won’t be surprised if it’s still there 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Some entrepreneur has come up with a way of using old plastics for roads. Apparently it works, too! Presently undergoing tests in a few locations, but, you never know, perhaps those plastic bottles, etc. may be in even greater demand. Would be fun seeing kids scouring the hedgerows, looking for what they so casually chucked in there in the first place.

    Liked by 1 person

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